Artist: Sir William Nicholson English (1872-1942) Also known as Beggarstaff along with James Pryde, Scottish (1866-1941)
Plate: NLT. 12
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
An ill March noon; the flagstones gray with dust;
An all-round east wind volleying straws and grit;
St Martin's steps, where every venomous gust
Lingers to buffet, or sneap, the passing cit;
And in the gutter, squelching a rotten boot,
Draped in a wrap that, modish ten year syne,
Partners, obscene with sweat and grease and soot,
A horrible hat, that once was just as fine;
The drunkard's mouth a-wash for something drinkable,
The drunkard's eye alert for casual 'toppers',
The drunkard's neck stooped to a lot scarce thinkable,
A living, crawling blazoning of Hot Coppers,
He trails his mildews-with a Kingdom-Come
Compact of 'sausage-and-mash' and 'two-o'rum!'
"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)
The Sandwich man. "Much like today, London was plastered with advertising, with armies of chalkers and 'external poster hangers' decorating blank walls, empty shops and wooden hoardings with advertising posters. The combined inconveniences of an advertising tax and increased competition for poster space led advertisers to a simple conclusion - make the messages become mobile! Described by the writer William Weir as 'peripatetic placards'. Charles Dickens described these advertisers as a piece of human flesh between two slices of paste board.” (www.urban75.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.The girls who sat with the baskets of flowers for sale 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)