May 13 2011: The Delectable History of Fortnum & Mason (1950s)

Something else from both the 1950s and Regent Street, to follow yesterday’s Hector Powe brochure, and while it’s another commercial item (whose purpose seems primarily to weave the activities of Fortnum & Mason into a historic narrative at the heart of national life) it’s also a near-perfect example of a certain whimsical illustrative style, touched by French influences, but quintessentially English. 

In fact, after catching an episode of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’s Noggin the Nog on TV the other night, with this brochure only recently found, I was led to think about the family resemblance of the Smallfilms output and this style of illustration in a general sense: looking at the Postgate/Firmin work certainly suggests their animation is nourished on visual sources not too far removed from the pages below.

Who the illustrator of this Fortnum & Mason publication actually was isn’t specified, though the initials E.B. appear in the front cover drawing and there are some notable stylistic affinities with the work of Edward Bawden. That’s slightly more than a guess (Fortnum & Mason is noted as having commissioned him) but the question of whether or not this commemorative brochure was definitely by Bawden will have to remain unanswered for the moment.

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