Mr Brangwyn’s splendid design must be hailed as a sign that ‚Äúthe poor man’s art gallery‚Äù is not entirely doomed, and that we may experience a revival in the art of the hoarding.’P G Konody, The Decorative Art of Frank Brangwyn’, Magazine of Art,July 1903, discussing Brangwyn’s poster for the Orient-Pacific Line.
Brangwyn produced about 280 lithographs between 1890 and 1940 (including war posters and commercial work). Many lithographs were for special editions of magazines (Neolith, The Studio); books (Verhaeren’s, Les Campagnes Hallucinees) and art folios. Although the works generally depicted Brangwyn’s muscular men in fields and factories, some early lithographs are unusually soft and gentle in character, with Art Nouveau figures. Brangwyn used lithographs to quite different effect in his war work and commercial posters and also in the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Instead of using the more traditional limestone for the Stations o f the Cross, Brangwyn used zinc plates, and commissioned James Richardson of Warminster to print some copies on to sycamore blocks in order to avoid the occurrence of foxing from damp church walls.Brangwyn was one of a small but dedicated number of artists who prepared his own stones and drew directly on the stone rather than using transfer paper, which would be applied to a stone by an assistant. Unlike other practitioners, Brangwyn used coarse rather than smooth surfaced stone, mixed lithographic chalk,and brush and used snakestone to add highlights, thereby gaining a variety of tone. Although Brangwyn could print his own proofs, most of his lithographs were printed byTRWay and the Gouldings in Britain and probably by Clot in France, whilst The Avenue Press, London, printed the majority of his war and commercial posters.Although Brangwyn produced over 80 poster designs during World War I, 61 of which were printed, he was not, surprisingly, an official war artist. The compositions and details of the posters were based on memories of the Messina earthquake (see P84), news agency photographs and the daily illustrations of destruction which appeared in The Times, together with loans of German and British uniforms and guns from the Imperial War Museum and the United States Naval Authorities.A large proportion of Brangwyn’s work during this period was given free of charge to charitable groups, for example the Red Cross, National Institute for the Blind (St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors), Belgian and Allied Aid League and probably Orphelinat des Armees, an American charity in aid of a French Army Orphanage.Other clients included the National War Savings Committee, Frank Pick of UERCL (Underground Electric Railways Company of London), the United States Navy and various companies who desired Rolls of Honour. Newspapers were also keen to prove their patriotism and Brangwyn designed six recruiting posters for the Daily Chronicle (one of which car¬≠ried the comical notation that Daily Chronicle readers are covered against the risks of bombardment by zeppelin or aeroplane. The Canadian War Memorials Fund commissioned six lithographs showing their troops in France and Belgium, and Brangwyn was involved with the Ministry of Information’s Britain’s Efforts and Ideals of War, producing one design for Ideals (The Freedom of the Seas) and a series of six for Efforts, entitled Making Sailors. In addition to the war posters Brangwyn produced over 40 posters for commercial enterprises between.The artist expressed the desire to see more Art used in advertising, because advertising is a tremendous force which needs handling with much more Art and com¬≠mon sense than it is getting at present’ ,7+The posters are quite different from the war production, more stylised, less emotive, bolder in outline and frequently combine image and lettering.Clients included London & North East Railway, London Underground, E Pollard & Co., Royal Institute of British Architects, Stephenson’s Floor Polish, The Studio magazine, Zambrene rubberless coats and the Orient¬≠ Pacific Line (see p 137). Brangwyn’s humanitarian concerns led him additionally to design posters for the Abolition of Capital Punishment, St Bartholomew’s Hospital (donated without charge), French Benevolent Society, and General Relief Fund for Women and Children in Spain.
This lithograph has been used for the cover of The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan