Monday, April 27, 2015

Charles Mozley Illustrates Tom Sawyer

Unlike so many of the illustrators of the second half of the Twentieth Century, Charles Mozley (1914-1991) is rather well served by the internet by dint of having been celebrated posthumously in an exhibition at the University of Reading in 1996.  I need do no more to accompany these great black and white illustrations from a 1960s edition of Tom Sawyer than point you to their excellent notes on his life and work.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice

Since its appearance in the 2004 film "Closer", Postman's Park, hidden away a short walk from St Paul's Cathedral in London, has had plenty written about it in print and on the internet. There are better photos than mine available of it and of the memorial it contains: The Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. The memorial was the creative child of G. F. Watts and contains some 40 or so ceramic wall plaques giving details of some astonishing stories. 

So, having seen it in the movies and read about it on the net before now, when I stumbled upon it by accident yesterday whilst visiting that part of London, I couldn't pass by without spending a little time there. But none of the exposure that the place has had can quite prepare you for the heart-wrenching experience of reading through the stories on the wall in the hushed surroundings of the park.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Salomon van Abbé illustrates Tanglewood Tales

I am sure that the Childrens' Illustrated Classics series published by Dent Dutton in the 1950s and 60s must have featured here before but I'm blowed if I can find it. They are great books: solidly octavo and dustjacketed and illustrated throughout in both colour and black and white. These illustrations are from a 1960s reprint of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales by Salomon van Abbé (1883-1955). He and his brother Joseph (who later styled himself Joseph Abbey and was for a while the editor of Chums in the 30s) were both sons of an Amsterdam diamond dealer. The whole family moved to England when Salomon was just a small boy. He is well known for his fine dry-point etchings of the legal profession but was also prolific working on books as an illustrator and a designer of jackets. He worked for a number of publishers which led to him having to adopt a pseudonym for work with Herbert Jenkins, one of whose rivals was unhappy he was working with them too.

The illustrations for the Tanglewood Tales are typical of Abbé's work. Here we have Jason, Orpheus, Cadmus, Theseus and, of course, the Minotaur (although perhaps imagined in a somewhat diminished way). Both the colour plates and the black and white illustrations have a certain appeal.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Things That Fall From Books #19: Saints

Well, we haven't had one of these Things That Fall From Books posts for over a year - shame on me - it's not that things have stopped falling, just that I've stopped scanning them quite so much! Anyway, I've seen prettier and more anatomically correct Saint Sebastians but as I once has a blog entirely devoted to him I thought I had to share this 18th century engraving of him that fell today from between the pages of a 17th century Missal.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe and the Cunard Poster

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe is remembered mainly now only by the residents of Whitby, where he lived and did nearly all his photographic work, and by aficionados of early photography. His portraits of the poor fisherfolk of Whitby are really quite beautiful but he was much better known in his own lifetime for his photograph "The Water Rats" of a group of naked boys disporting themselves in Whitby harbour. That photograph was taken in 1886 and exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society Exhibition where King Edward VII saw it and was so taken with it that he ordered a big enlargement for Malborough House. "The Water Rats" is easily findable with Google and seeing it, you will wonder I am sure at the fact that such brazen nudity caused reactions too at the other end of the spectrum to the King's: the clergy of Whitby excommunicated Sutcliffe believing that the photograph would be source of corruption for the other sex! As with all controversies of this kind they tend to divert attention away from the brilliance of the artwork itself.

I was somewhat intrigued to see the poster above at a local antiques and collectibles fair recently. It is only a reproduction, but of an actual Cunard poster, and so gives an idea of just how well known Sutcliffe's photography was in his own time because this is an artistic representation of a photograph called "In Puer Naturalibus" (below).  A somewhat more posed affair than "The Water Rats" and perhaps the title in Latin might make us think he was reaching after something: but it is still a charming image. It took me ages to realise, however, that it was this photograph. The two poses are very recognisable but it took a while to understand that the artist of the poster has edited out the middle boy on the photograph and moved the right hand boy forward.

Vintage Swimwear for a change...

For those of you, myself included, who might have feared that my collecting of young men in vintage swimwear has stalled... here is the latest to fall on the mat. I know they are almost certainly a swim team of some sort but... look at those ears... could they be four brothers?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Erté Illustrates a Gay Romance

I don't know enough about the complete oeuvre of Romain de Tirtoff, better known as Erté (from the French pronunciation of his initials) to say whether he did much by way of gay-themed illustration, or perhaps these are the only ones. They accompany a brilliant piece of literary fun by Lytton Strachey called Erymntrude and Esmeralda in which two young society girls write letters to each other as they resolve to find out all there is to know about 'making-love' and to share all their discoveries with each other. The three illustrations here come from an episode in which Esmeralda discovers her brother is having an affair with his tutor: "Do you think - my dear, do you think it's possible for them to be in love? I'm almost sure they must be, but then if they are, I can't understand at all, because how can they have babies?"

Two by Albert Wainwright

It's always nice to be able to add a couple of Albert Wainwright images to the internet. These come from the catalogue of an exhibition of his work held in 1986. The top is called "Hullabaloobalay" and is an oil on canvas paper, the one below is a watercolour titled "The Bathers". The photograph at the bottom, also from the catalogue is rather nice in that it helps to put Wainwright's early life into context, it shows a 22 year old Wainright with a similarly young Henry Moore and their teacher Alice Gostik on a trip to Wales in 1919.

Monday, April 13, 2015

100 Year Old Lightning

Photography is often defined in terms of capturing a fleeting single moment in time or capturing light... Is it possible that this photograph is a visual definition of photography. A flash of lightning caught in that infinitesimal moment and fixed in light for over 100 years. I was completely enchanted by this when I saw it the other day and simply had to have it.

Ralph Chubb "The Visionary"

I am very grateful to long-time friend of Front Free Endpaper, Paul, for sending a copy of an article he found about Ralph Chubb. First though, he informs me that there is a connection between Leon Underwood, who featured on this blog a few days ago and is currently the subject of a major exhibition at The Pallant Gallery in Chichester. Anthony Valentine in his booklet Ralph Chubb - The UnKnown, "Ralph knew Leon Underwood during his time at the Slade [1919-1922] Ralph was Leon Underwood's best friend there. Then 'and in later years' Leon extended every kind of help and encouragement to Ralph.
It was due to Leon that Ralph's work was shown in exhibition." 

Chubb also seems to have been around when Underwood was running his own art school, The Brook Green School of Art. Underwood published a magazine that included much of the work of his students and friends called The Island, and although Chubb appears in this magazine, presumably with Underwood's full support, there is evidence that Chubb didn't fit in as well with the rest of the group of artists there. An audio interview given by Eileen Agar in 1990 suggests that Chubb "horrified" the others and that his sexuality and his subject matter were the main cause of that. Be that as it may Chubb was always something of an outsider and he would have been uneasy in any 'group' setting, possibly groups of artists in particular.

The article Paul kindly sent is from The Studio in 1926 and is illustrated with a black and white version of "The Well", a painting that has been on the blog before and also with this painting above, "The Visionary", which is, of course, a self-portrait. The text too might be something of a self-portrait: it's possible that this was either written by Chubb himself or taken more or less in full from text he submitted himself (Dots do not indicate missing text but fluerons in the text) : 

"Mr. Ralph Chubb's work has that other element, and as such work might well be cultivated as a national asset, the point of view of the man who produced it deserves study . . . In the first place, Mr. Chubb was both with a passion of romantic imagination, and drew the fantastic subjects loved of old masters from his early childhood. To watch children drawing is to know that in this he was not unique, save in the fact that his imagination did not die, as the average child's imagination dies, at the age of fifteen or thereabouts. It appears that he loved the Pre-Raphaelites and that he took the Classical Tripos at Cambridge. He is a man educated in matters other than paint. Painting is, if anything is, a cultural subject, yet many artists appear indifferent to culture. In Mr. Chubb's work there is nothing of that look of underfed imagination which seems to be the root of dullness . . . It is in the artist's own explanation that the critic finds light . . . "Merely to love painting," says Mr. Chubb, "does not seem to me to be enough. It is like a carpenter who loves his bench and his tools, but is scornful of the object he is making. I therefore believe in imaginative pictures, despite present fashion. True sentiment I regard as essential, paramount - the thing that matters most in a work of art. And loving care in carrying out the conception I regard as the second most important thing. Any deviation from nature must some from imaginative interpretation of her, not from wilful disregard of her.""

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Happy Birthday David

It's not often that one comes across a piece of ephemera relating to a same-sex relationship and I can only assume that this amazing little piece of card is one such. I'm sorry that the photo is poor, it was taken on a mobile phone. It's of a copy of Love by Walter de la Mare.

The card reads "To David, on his birthday April 12th, 1980, John. See Love Walter de la Mare Page 153 - Verse 184."

It is a charming note linked to a charming poem and, wherever you are now, should you still be with us or nay, may I be among those, 35 years later wishing you a Happy Birthday for today David.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Catalogue: Jacques Simonot Photographs

A new catalogue from Callum James Books: Jacques Simonot Photographs.  From the introduction: 
Jacques Simonot (1925-1982) was a cornerstone of a group
of photographers who did a lot of work documenting the
Scouting movement in Europe in the mid-twentieth century.
Most of the photographs here are in the same style as those
of Robert Manson and Charles Egermeier and others,
even though these ones specifically are primarily not of the
scouting movement. Mainly active in the 1950s and 60s, in
addition to his work in Scouting, Simonot took portraits of
French working boys out of his studio in Dijon: butcher’s
boys, farmhands, shop assistants and so on. There is also
a series of photos taken in Naples and Sicily, a number
of which appear in this catalogue and can be identified by
prefixes, NA or SIC on their stock number.
The catalogue can be viewed here:

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Leon Underwood at The Pallant Gallery

This above is Leon Underwood (1890-1975). I confess I had never heard his name before yesterday when R and I swept into Chichester on a sunny bank-holiday afternoon and, on a whim, decided to see what was on at the always brilliant Pallant Gallery. 

In the past we have seen exceptional exhibitions here of work by the likes of Keith Vaughan and Edward Burra. The gallery specialises in British Twentieth Century artists and has an extremely impressive permanent collection as well as these wonderful temporary ones. 

It turns out I should have heard of Leon Underwood: quite a remarkable chap by all accounts. He was a printmaker and painter, a sculptor, teacher and expert in African tribal art. Despite a very large and impressive body of work, it is possible that his greatest achievement was in his role as teacher: having set up his own art school he taught the likes of Gertrude Hermes, Eileen Agar, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Blair Hughes-Stanton, to name a few. This exhibition really enables the viewer to see how deep that influence must have been in the fields of printmaking and sculpture in particular. The curators at the Pallant never fail. Every one of the exhibitions I have attended there have been the kind where you actually want to read every word of the wall text and feel like you are being introduced to a new friend in the process. If you are able: visit!

Leon Underwood. Figure and Rhythm is on at The Pallant Gallery in Chichester until 14th June

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