Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Albert Wainwright: A Matter of Style

Regular readers will, by now, be familiar with the style of Albert Wainwright, an artist we have been championing here at Front Free Endpaper for a while now. He is known for his strongly Art Deco use of line and very 1930s strong, rich colours but, like many very good artists, his style in his mature work is such that one can almost always see one and say "that's a Wainwright". However, no one falls fully formed from the heavens in body or in style and my recent trip to visit the collection of Nik Elm in London meant that I was able to look through his large folio of Wainwright sketches and paintings and find among them some earlier work showing a much stronger influence from the black and white masters like Beardsley and Heath Robinson. I think the sketch below of St Vitus, although not as finished as some, is particularly charming. This was a style which he favoured in the 19-teens and he soon began moulding it to his own taste and sensibility, but it was still in evidence as a background flavour by the time we get into the 30s and 40s when he providing black and white line illustrations for books.

And since we are talking about style and how it can vary within the output of just one artist I thought I would also include the image at the bottom of this post: one of my favourite Wainwright images so far, and yet, also one of the few which somehow falls a little outside his usual style.

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