Artist: Sir William Nicholson English (1872-1942) Also known as Beggarstaff along with James Pryde, Scottish (1866-1941)
Plate: NLT. 09
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"
Who says Drum-Major says a man of mould,
Shaking the meek earth with tremendous tread,
And pacing still, a triumph to behold,
Of his own spine at least two yards ahead!
Attorney, grocer, surgeon, broker, duke-
His calling may be anything, who comes
Into a room, his presence a rebuke
To the dejected,as the pipes and drums
Inspired his port! - who mounts his office stairs
As though he led great armies to the fight!
His bulk itself's pure genius, and he wears
His avoirdupois with so much fire and spright
That, though the creature stands but five feet five,
You take him for the tallest He alive.
"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)
Drum Major Goodman, London Scottish regiment ca.1896
Drum Major Goodman and the Pipes and Drums were a fixture of Victorian society, playing at prestigious events throughout the era, include Queen Victoria’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee parades, where troops from around the Empire paraded through the streets of London, with over three million spectators in attendance. ‘Big Drum Major’ Goodman was a household name throughout this period, with a famous music hall song written in his honour. In fact, the Pipes and Drums were held in such high regard that they were often given the honour of playing London Scottish troops past on parade, where all other volunteer regiments would be played past by the Band of the Household Division or the senior band on parade. (londonscottishregt.org)
"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)