Friday, June 06, 2008

Charles Pears: Toby and Tan 1

Toby And His Little Dog Tan or, The Great Detective of Fairy-Land by Gilbert James, illustrated by Charles Pears.

I'm never usually the type to spend money on things which fall well outside my collection, and whilst I can appreciate a nicely illustrated book with the best of them, illustrated books per se are not my thing. This, however, charmed me to pieces, and out of a few pounds too. There is something about the large illustrations in this book, the colour palette is muted and seems to be all the more so for the printing method which looks something akin to newsprint. Nonetheless, the illustrations are actually more appealing for the manner of their reproduction.

It transpires that Charles Pears (1873-1958) was a well known artist, particularly as a marine artist during war time. This is what the National Maritime Museum has to say about him:

English painter, born in Pontefract, Yorkshire, on 9 September 1873 and educated at East Hardwick and Pomfret College. He tended to specialize in marine scenes and was later appointed the first president of the Society of Naval Artists. He remained a lifelong admirer of Canaletto. Throughout his career he also worked as an illustrator, contributing to The Yellow Book, the Illustrated London News, Punch, The Graphic and other periodicals. As a designer of posters, his images for the London Metropolitan Railway (‘Southend’, 1915) and the Empire Marketing Board (‘The Empire Highway to India’, 1928) reached a wide audience. During the First World War, Pears was appointed an official war artist to the Admiralty in addition to holding a commission in the Royal Marines. He once again worked as a war artist during the Second World War. One such work from this period is his ‘The Jervis Bay Action’ from 1940 in the National Maritime Museum, London, distinctive for its pinpoint, crystal-clear detail. He lived in London, later moving to Saint Mawes in Cornwall, and was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Oil Colours. He died in Truro in January 1958 but he is commemorated in a prize at the Royal Society of Marine Artists’ annual exhibition: the Charles Pears Memorial Award.
They have a number of his paintings at the museum which can be seen here.

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