Artist: Sir William Nicholson English (1872-1942) Also known as Beggarstaff along with James Pryde, Scottish (1866-1941)
Title: Bluecoat Boy
Plate: NLT. 11
Original Lithograph from "London Types"
Printed by William Heinemann, London 1898
View the Complete Set and more works at the Nicholson Collection
Sheet Size: 10 3/8 in x 13 in 26.4 cm x 33 cm
by W.E. Henley (British poet, 18949-1903) from "London Types
So went our boys when EDWARD VI, the King,
Chartered CHRIST'S HOSPITAL, and died, And so
Full fifteen generations in a string
Of heirs to his bequest have had to go.
Thus CAMDEN showed, and BARNES, and STILLINGFLEET,
And RICHARDSON, that bade our LOVELACE be;
The little ELIA thus in NEWGATE STREET;
Thus to his GENEVIEVE young S.T.C.
With thousands else that, wandering up and down,
Quaint, privileged, liked and reputed well,
Made the great School a part of LONDON TOWN
Patent as PAUL's and vital as BOW BELL:
The old School nearing exile, day by day,
To certain clay-lands somewhere HORSHAM way.
"Nicholson’s portfolio of London characters anticipated even the boldest of contemporary graphics with an approach to design that pulled no punches. Little wonder, then, that by the turn of the century, and at the age of just twenty-six, he was touted as Britain’s greatest living printmaker." (goldmarkart.com)
Bluecoat is a style of dress code, traditionally worn in Bluecoat schools (English private schools deriving from charity schools). The main element of the bluecoat is a long (dark blue or black) coat, belted at the waist, with white neck decoration. Underneath a white shirt and grey shorts are worn, with knee-length socks and smart shoes.
"William Nicholson's woodblock prints of the 1890's were amongst the most revolutionary British print images of the era. They used a treatment of form, with a stylised simplification of shape, and a handling of perspective and picture space which had had no precedent in British art. Influences of Japanese art, and a parallel thinking to, if not a direct knowledge of, the ideas of Toulouse Lautrec and of the Nabis painters in Paris at the same period can certainly be felt, although there is no record that Nicholson had actually studied either at this date.
One of the most famous of the groups of prints that Nicholson cut at this period was the series known as 'London Types'. This was made at the instigation of William Heinemann, who published all William Nicholson's early prints. The series portrays typical figures from London life of the period. Such as the girls who sat with the baskets of flowers for sale who were a familiar sight near 'Rotten Row' where the fashionable people of London society rode out on their horses at the edge of Hyde Park by Park Lane. The impressions of this popular edition were printed by taking a transfer from his woodblock onto a lithographic stone and adding lithograph colour" (Weston)