Archive for the ‘illustrators’ Category

How Radio Times marked VE Day

May 8, 2020

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This is the front cover of the Radio Times listing VE-Day celebrations in Britain to mark Germany’s surrender in May 1945. Special victory radio programmes on the BBC marked the week, celebrating each of the armed services and the civilian effort.

Beautifully illustrated as always, even the advertising, such as this Nestle advert, drawn, I reckon, by Mabel Lucie Atwell. She was an incredibly successful illustrator, renowned for her drawings of cute children.

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Peter Rabbit and a magazine cover mystery

April 12, 2020
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Peter Rabbit lookalike on March 1904 Royal magazine cover

Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Peter Rabbit is one of the world’s best-selling books. It was a massive success after Frederick Warne & Co published the work in 1902 and within a year Peter Rabbit stuffed toys and other merchandising began to appear.

This uncredited Royal magazine cover dated March 1904 was undoubtedly part of that craze. A rabbit cover would usually be an unusual choice for a general interest monthly like the Royal a month before Easter Sunday, which was on April 3, but magazine publishers have always been good at jumping on bandwagons.

The illustration evokes Peter Rabbit without  referencing any of the story’s details, which would probably have triggered claims against Pearson’s, for copyright infringements.

ladies_home_1903_4aprIt turns out though, that not only was the illustration jumping on the Beatrix Potter bandwagon, but that it was a copy – or a licensed reproduction of – a cover by Frank Guild from the Ladies’ Home Journal, a US monthly, from Easter the year before.

The association of rabbits with Easter dates back to Eostra, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, who was symbolised by a rabbit and was honoured on the spring equinox. Christians took on the festival as Easter.

 

 

 

The art in advertising

March 26, 2020
Edwards' Harlene hair dressing advert 1902

Edwards’ Harlene hair dressing advert from 1902

Engraved advertising in Victorian and Edwardian magazines looks so dramatic with its hard back and white lines, particularly as the big brands employed some of the best illustrators.

This engraving is from a page advert in Alfred Harmsworth’s London, a monthly magazine, dated June 1902. The face in the unsigned illustration for Edwards’ Harlene hair dressing has the look of a painting or leaded window by the Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne Jones. Overall, the image is influenced by the works of Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau, with detailed patterning for the clothes and background; everything, except, ironically, for the snaking hair itself.

The Wellcome Library has a chromolitho print of the Harlene artwork without the text from the lower part of the advert.

It was clearly a brand that took advertising very seriously with celebrity recommendations by music hall artiste Lillie Langtry and, it seems, half the royal houses in Europe. But then, Harlene was a miracle potion, promising that it:

Restores the hair,
promotes the growth,
arrests the fall,
strengthens the roots,
removes dandruff,
beautifies the hair.

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Pre-Raphaelite face in the engraving

The Art of Advertising exhibition was to open at Oxford’s Bodleian library this month, but has been postponed. It tells the story of British advertising from the mid 18th century to the 1930s based on the John Johnson collection of printed ephemera.

Other places to research advertising imagery include the History of Advertising Trust, the Maurice Rickards collection and the Advertising Archives.

>>More about magazines at Magforum.com

Black and white artists in London Opinion

March 5, 2020
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London Opinion cover, dated 11 April 1908

London Opinion was a popular weekly magazine of the Edwardian period that was heavily illustrated by various black and white artists, such as Alfred ‘Your Country Needs You’ Leete and Bert ‘Are a Mo, Kaiser’ Thomas. This cover, dated 11 April 1908, is signed, but heaven knows what the signature says!

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The cover by the unknown illustrator is unusual in that it combines both line illustration and halftone. The halftone reproduction is reserved for the face.

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Halftone reproduction is only used for the face on this London Opinion cover

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At this stage, Leete does not appear to be one of the star illustrators, though he was regularly doing covers by 1914 when he did the Kitchener image that became the famous recruiting poster. He has at least three illustrations in this 1908 issue, judging by his signature with its dropped ‘T’.

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Alfred Leete’s signature can be seen on this cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

Magazine cover tricks: upside-down faces

January 15, 2020
Punch magazine front cover

Punch horror special from 1973: turn your screen upside-down!

Faces that can be turned upside-down to make another face have long been an illustrated  postcard gimmick, such as a Kaiser Bill card from World War I. They’re rarer on magazine covers, but here’s a Punch effort from 1973 for a horror special issue of the satirical weekly.

>>More cover design secrets

Harry Furniss: he Lika Joko

January 10, 2020
Lika Joko first issue cover

Lika Joko first issue cover in 1894. It was ‘conducted’ by Harry Furniss

Harry Furniss was a popular black and white artist of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods who launched his own magazine, Lika Joko in 1894 after he left Punch. The name was a pun on ‘like a joke’ and one of his noms-de-crayon. Like many periodicals of the time, the cover was dominated by advertising.

Note how Furniss portrays himself alongside the magazine’s title with his quill pen piercing the artist’s palette and the nib appearing to be covered in blood – the pen being mightier than the sword. He is dressed in a kimono with sheets of paper held in place at his back by the belt. The patterns on the kimono are formed from parts of his signature. The lettering of the title also has a Japanese feel. Furniss had produced a series of cartoons, ‘Our Japanneries’, under the name Lika Joko in 1888, pretending to be ‘the celebrated Japanese Artist … who is now on a visit to this country’. In the late Victorian period, Japan had a huge influence of art in Britain, resulting in a phenomenon known as Japonisme. Japan and Britain were great allies until World War II.

Illustration from Lika Joko editorial page: How Harry Furniss portrayed Mr Punch and Toby

How Harry Furniss portrayed Mr Punch and Toby in the Lika Joko editorial

On Punch, Furniss was renowned for his quick-fire caricatures of MPs in parliament for the Essence of Parliament pages, which were collated into books, but he turned his pen to all sorts of subjects and illustrated many books. RGG Price in his History of Punch (1957) says: ‘During the years of his Punch work, Harry Furniss dominated the pages. He was all over the place with jokes, illustrations, dramatic criticisms, headings and parliamentary sketches … It is said that he would chat to a man and caricature him on a pad held in his pocket.’

One of his cartoons in the satirical weekly was a spoof on advertising for A&F Pears (now part of Unilever), which used endorsements from celebrities such as the actress and notable beauty, Lillie Langtry, to sell its translucent amber soap. The spoof (26 April 1884) showed a tramp writing a letter saying:

I used your Soap two years ago; since then I have used no other.

Furniss and Punch fell out when the magazine sold the copyright in the drawing to Pears for use in advertising. Price describes Furniss as being ‘dictatorial and slick’ over the issue and the Punch people as ‘patient and disinterested’ in their correspondence. Despite this, the Pears advert was carried on the back cover of the first issue of Lika Joko – see at the bottom of this post – though with a slightly different caption. Pears used the Furniss cartoon advert at least for 16 years – I have a copy of it in a 1910 issue of TP’s Magazine.

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Pears took the Millais painting ‘A Child’s World’, added a bar of soap by the boy’s foot to advertising reproductions, and called it ‘Bubbles’

Pears famously turned another image, the painting ‘A Child’s World’ by the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Millais, into advertising – the  image became so famous because it was reproduced as colour lithographs millions of times over several decades. Thomas Barratt, the company’s managing director, bought the painting from Illustrated London News owner Sir William Ingram, who had reproduced it in the magazine as a colour poster for a Christmas issue. Pears had the image copied with a bar of its soap added and today we know it as ‘Bubbles’.

Barratt has been described as ‘the father of modern advertising’ for his innovative strategies. The boy in the painting was the artist’s grandson, Willie James, who later became a Royal Navy admiral. Like Pears’ soap, ‘Bubbles’ is now owned by Unilever and is on loan to the Lady Lever art gallery in Port Sunlight, on the Wirral. Copies of the colour advertising can be seen online from the V&A museum catalogue.

Pear's soap took the back page of Lika Joko with its Harry Furniss advertisement

Pears took the back page of Lika Joko with its Harry Furniss advert

Lika Joko lasted for just 26 issues, from 20 October 1894 to 13 April 1895. Price describes how Furniss was refused a gallery ticket to parliament for Lika Joko – a disaster for a political caricaturist – and that this proved fatal to the paper. Later, Furniss went to the US, where the Internet Movie Database lists him as directing, writing and appearing in three films for Edison Studios, a company controlled by the inventor Thomas Edison: The Mighty Hunters and The Artist’s Joke (1912), and Rival Reflections (1914). Furniss returned to Britain and has been credited with helping to pioneer animated cartoon films in 1914 with War Cartoons and Peace and Pencillings. The BFI credits Furniss on 15 films.

There is a short film online at Brighton University, Winchelsea and its Surroundings. A Day with Harry Furniss and his Sketchbook, which shows Furniss at the cottage of Helen Terry and painting the actress. Other scenes are filmed in Winchelsea and Hastings.

Price reckons Furniss made a lot of money but lost most of it to making films. He died in 1925, in the seaside town of Hastings, where he is buried.

The National Portrait Gallery has a self-portrait of Furniss and more than 450 of his sketches for sale online as prints.

>> Harry Furniss profile in Tit-Bits, alongside Sir Leslie Ward (‘Spy’ of Vanity Fair) and the theatrical caricaturist Alfred Bryan

>> More on Punch, a weekly satirical magazine that lasted 150 years


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


Christmas magazines: 1936 Help Yourself

December 18, 2019
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Staff at London’s stock exchange produced Help Yourself, a charity magazine

You may have noticed that Christmas is coming, geese are getting fat and it’s time to put a penny in the old man’s hat. Charity is a big part of the season and this cover is from a magazine especially published to raise money for good works.

Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members widows and orphans. Did it inspire the comic title?
Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members widows and orphans. Did it inspire the comic title?

Help Yourself was an annual published by the Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society as part of its Christmas appeal. The woman Beefeater has been a constant in the four issues I have seen between 1931 and 1938, with Remington typewriters and Cow & Gate milk food as cover sponsors. The image was signed ‘Abbey’. It was a very professional offering at 128 pages plus the covers costing 2/6 – two shillings and sixpence. As a comparison, a copy of Vogue at the time cost one shilling.

It was a common model at the time, with Fleet Street publishing the likes of Winter’s Pie to raise cash for industry pensioners, there was Red Poppy to raise money for veterans, and Beano magazine was launched in 1934 by Nalgo, the trade union, to raise funds for members’ widows and orphans.

What was in Help Yourself to justify a cover price two and a half times that of the expensive monthly glossies? The answer is that is was packed with the biggest names in fiction and illustration at the time. These included Pamela Frankau and Marjorie Bowen, and Fortunino Matania, Bert Thomas, William Heath Robinson, Edward Hynes.

Frankau had dozens of novels published, including The Willow CabinA Wreath for the Enemy, The Winged Horse, all three of which were reissued as Virago. Bowen’s first novel was The Viper of Milan in 1906 and her last in 1954, bringing her total to about 150 works, covering romance, horror, popular history and biography.

Red Poppy was a fundraising magazine produced in Glasgow

Red Poppy was a fundraising magazine produced in Glasgow

Matania had been a war artist and provided illustration for almost all the best titles; Thomas was famed for his ‘Art a Mo’ Kaiser poster from the Great War; WH Robinson is still known today for his mad machine constructions; and Hynes was just starting to do the covers of Men Only – and would carry on doing so for 20 years.

Among the advertising pages was a campaign for Ovaltine by Lilian Hocknell, who did many magazine covers and is probably best remembered for her advertising collaborations with Chilprufe.

A rare feature of this issue is a colour portrait of King Edward Viii as the frontispiece. He stepped down over his affair with the US divorcee Wallis Simpson, having served for less than a year, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.

This is the first of several Christmas covers I’ll be posting in the next week.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

Kitchener poster and the Washington Post film

November 20, 2019
The cover of Art Buchwald's 1968 book, Have I Ever Lied to You? is on the wall of the editor's office in The Post

The cover of Art Buchwald’s 1968 book is on the wall of the editor’s office in The Post

I rabbit on so much about Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster that I wrote a book about it, but it still never ceases to amaze me the way that Leete’s Kitchener image – and the many derivatives of it – keep popping up. One example is in the Steven Spielberg film, The Post.

A poster for Have I Ever Lied to You?, a book by the Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, is on the wall of the editor’s office. It can be seen in several scenes. Buchwald is portrayed as Uncle Sam from the 1917 recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg.

The Flagg image, which, like Leete’s, first appeared on a magazine cover (Leslie’s Weekly), was a blatant copy of Leete’s September 1914 cover for London Opinion magazine. Flagg simply replaced Kitchener with himself as Uncle Sam, and the poster has been as big a hit in the US as Leete’s was in Britain.

In The Post, Tom Hanks plays the editor, Ben Bradlee. It comes across just like the 1980s TV series Lou Grant. In that, Mrs Pynchon, the widowed owner of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune, was based on two women: Katherine Graham, the widowed owner of the Washington Post; and ‘Dolly’ Schiff, owner and publisher of the New York Post.

A racy cover for Pictorial Magazine

August 19, 2019

 

Pictorial Magazine front cover by Thomas Heath Robinson for a serial by Austin J. Small, ‘Seamark’

A comparatively racy cover for Pictorial Magazine by Thomas Heath Robinson for a serial by Austin J. Small, who wrote as ‘Seamark’

Pictorial Magazine was a cheap illustrated popular weekly costing two pennies (2d) from Amalgamated Press. This racy cover promotes the start of a new fiction serial – ‘Perils of Desire’ – by Austin J. Small, who used the nom-de-plume ‘Seamark’ and wrote science fiction as well as mysteries.

The illustration was by Thomas Heath Robinson, the oldest brother of Charles and William Heath Robinson, and a popular black-and-white artist in the Edwardian era. While WH became a household name with his quirky machine drawings, the Dictionary of 20thCentury Book Illustrators suggests that demand for Thomas’s work ‘seemed to dry up’ during the First World War. Such was the dip in his career that in 1920 he and his family had to move out of their house in the Pinner suburb of north London into lodgings and then a council house.

The Philsp magazine cataloguing website lists hundreds of Thomas’s works for magazines such as The Strand, Captain and Chums, but nothing from the end of 1919 until March 1923. However, things picked up and they were able to move back to Pinner the year after this cover came out. After that, he’s continually working on magazines until 1935, when he would have been 63 years old.

Other fiction in this issue of Pictorial Magazine included ‘XV: Percy the Pocket’, another case for Detective X Crook, a reformed criminal, by J Jefferson Farjeon, a popular and prolific mystery writer of the period.

Other features in this issue included ‘Must parsons keep “mum”?’ by Reverend GA Studdert Kennedy – known since the war as ‘Woodbine Willie’ for his work on the front line.

Plenty there for a Saturday afternoon reading session.

Mayfair magazine, Lord Desborough and The Thames

August 16, 2018
Mayfair magazine's 1914 caricature by 'Pip' of Lord Desborough as 'The Thames'

Mayfair magazine’s 1914 caricature by ‘Pip’ of Lord Desborough as the personification of ‘The Thames’

There are many magazines named after places, particularly London districts and roads: Pall Mall, the Strand, Charing Cross and Cornhill spring to mind. A new one on me is Mayfair, which seems silly given the men’s magazine, but this is a copy of Mayfair magazine of 1914, just before the start of the First World War.

The masthead of Mayfair magazine

The masthead of Mayfair magazine. The name is expanded to include ‘and Country Society’ with a Latin motto

Mayfair was a society weekly in the mould of Vanity Fair – with a similar page size and format, and complete with a colour ‘cartoon’ portrait of a leading person of the day. It ran from 1911 to 1922, according to the British Library’s collection. This issue describes itself as ‘the only cartoon illustrated weekly’ because Vanity Fair, which dated back to 1868 with its chromolithography caricatures, had closed in January that year. The cartoonist was ‘Pip’ for the cartoon of Lord Desborough, as the personification of ‘The Thames’ for his work on building a new lock on the river. At Vanity Fair, the profiles were written by ‘Jehu Junior’ (Thomas Gibson Bowles, the magazine’s editor and owner); Mayfair‘s were by ‘Junius Junior’. Vanity Fair‘s prolific cartoonists included ‘Ape’ and ‘Spy’.

At over six feet tall, Desborough was a famous athlete as a runner, rower and fencer. He brought the Olympics to London in 1908. However, 1914 saw the start of several travails in his personal life. Two of his three sons were killed during during the war. The Times mistakenly ran his obituary on 2 December 1920, having being confused him with Lord Bessborough. His third son died after a car accident in 1926. Desborough himself died in 1945 at the age of 90.

The front cover of Mayfair magazine showing a stature of Minerva from Rome

The front cover of Mayfair magazine showing a statute of Minerva from Rome

This issue was a ‘special river supplement’, with 11 of its 24 pages devoted to the Thames, in addition to a colour plate of the source of the Thames, based on an engraving from 1873. The pages covered the river from its source near Oxford to Teddington Lock and were copiously illustrated with photographs, including of Eton, Magna Carta island and Taplow Court – ‘Lord Desborough’s famous riverside seat’. Very much the Hello! magazine treatment of the Edwardian era. (Today, Taplow Court is owned by a Buddhist group.) Several photographs show the opening of Boulter’s lock on the river in 1912, with Desborough in many of them.

The title page shows the masthead with a Latin inscription: ‘De omni re scibili et quibusdam aliis’ (‘Concerning all knowledge and other peoples’. This may be a reference to ‘De omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis’, the frontispiece etching from George Cruikshank’s Omnibus of 1842. The cartoon tries to portray everything and even more by crowding people on the earth.

A full-page advert – illustrated by ‘Pip’ – promotes the Mayfair Salon at the magazine’s premise where readers could commission a life-sized painting in oils or water colours. The magazine entrepreneurs of the era were never short of ideas for making a few bob.

Mayfair was published from 7 Albemarle Street, just off Piccadilly in Mayfair. A previous resident of 7 Albemarle Street was the Royal Thames, the oldest continuously operating yacht club in the world. It was established in 1775.

Mayfair magazine showing photographs of Boulter's lock from 1912 with Lord Desborough-the-thames

Mayfair magazine showing photographs of Boulter’s lock on the Thames from 1912 with Lord Desborough

Given the price of property, it’s difficult to imagine many publishers being based in that street today, but as well as Mayfair, John Murray, the book publisher, was at 50 Albemarle Street, from 1812 for the best part of two centuries. John Murray published Byron, Austen, Darwin, Livingstone, Betjman and many others who will have walked through its doors. And, in a famous example of literary vandalism, Byron’s memoirs were burnt inits office in 1824.

And the literary links don’t end there. Oscar Wilde was a member of the Albemarle Club and it was there in 1895 that the Marquess of Queensberry left his infamous ‘For Oscar Wilde, posing as a somdomite’ note that ultimately led the the magazine editor and writer being sent to Reading jail. Previously, Wilde had been editor of Lady’s World magazine for Cassell’s, relaunching it as Woman’s World, from 1887-89.

Albemarle was made one of the first one-way streets because of the popularity of the Royal Institution and the Albemarle Club, which led to huge carriage jams.


To learn about almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design