Oil and gouache on paper, signed lower right
Image size: 30 × 45 inches (76 × 114 cm)
Commissioned by London, Midland & Scottish Railway 1938
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This painting was produced as part of a series devoted to public schools in England. This painting shows a view of Harrow School, which was founded in 1571 by John Lyons.
The building shown is the ‘Old Schools’.
Norman Wilkinson was a successful marine painter and illustrator. He was also responsible for developing the concept of “dazzle camouflage” for British warships during the First World War. But it was as a poster artist that he reached his highest artistic level. In 1905, Wilkinson was commissioned by the London and North Western Railways to produce a poster advertising their rail/steam link to Ireland. Recognising the opportunity to create a new approach to railway poster design, he depicted the product as just one element of a broader landscape.
It was the first time this had been done and its revolutionary concept was an important influence in the development of the pictorial poster. He went on to organise the celebrated commissioning of poster designs from members of the Royal Academy for the London Midland and Scottish Railway company in the 1920s. Wilkinson believed that art should play an important part in advertising. His posters were well-planned and executed in broad tones of colour with a skilful use of black to strengthen the design. He was, in his words, “the father and mother of the artistic poster on English railway stations”.