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Ardizzone: A Retrospective at House of Illustration

This autumn, The House of Illustration in London is hosting a major exhibition of the work of Edward Ardizzone. The show will include examples of his most famous illustrations for books, drawings he produced while acting as an official war artist during the Second World War, as well as ceramics and posters.

Many of us are likely to have first encountered Ardizzone’s distinctive style as a child: perhaps via the cover of Clive King’s classic children’s story Stig of the Dump or his illustrations for Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas In Wales. Ardizzone also wrote his own books for children, the famous Little Tim series, which he of course also illustrated: these began in 1936 with Little Tim and the Sea Captain and continued for four over decades.

The House of Illustration exhibition will give Little b Tim fans a chance to see an original manuscript for one of the books, but also introduce viewers to the breadth of Ardizzone’s output, which included his moving WW2 work (he was appointed an official war artist in 1940 alongside contemporaries Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, and spent time in France, Belgium, North Africa and Italy, and was also present at the Normandy landings), and many commercial pieces. Of the latter, his witty ‘Guinness for strength’ poster – which shows a man effortlessly carrying both a piano and pianist on one shoulder – is perhaps his most famous, though there will also be mural artwork for a P&O ocean liner and poster designs for Lyons on show.

To coincide with the show, publisher Lund Humphries is producing a detailed monograph titled Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator, which presents an in-depth survey of his work, and also explores his influence on UK illustration.


Ardizzone: A Retrospective is at House of Illustration in London from September 23–January 15; houseofillustration.org.uk  

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