Lithographic Designs

My very first lithographic performance was a fretwork design on stone. I scraped out a mistake, making a hole like a grave in the stone’s surface. To my alarm, it was found out in the press room, a bare white patch showing on the black fretwork pattern, and the stone had to be re-polished, and I did the pattern all over again.

Hanging Out The Washing. Ink and wash with pencil
Girl with a Fan
A Soldier and his Girl

My lithographic work had grown, from year to year, more and more interesting. There may have been spasms of youthful rebellion and idleness.

Little Maids Going to School. c1899-1900. Pencil, watercolour, bodycolour and brush and black ink.

As those years went on my designs must have brought a great deal of business to Page Bros. & Co., Ltd., of Norwich, for I often had more work handed to me than I could cope with. The manager might come with a packet of papers and ask me to leave what I was doing and get out a rough design at once, as it was urgent, so much so that unless it were done by tomorrow, some other firm which had already submitted quotations and designs for the advertising of the commodity might get the order. These often went to many thousands of copies. The design might be for lemonade chocolates mustard whisky pills even for poultry foods or election posters. Yet whatever I was then doing would have to be left, and the other started, which meant that I must stir up my imagination and think hard to get an idea something for printing in three or more colours, something effective and with good spacing. I always had a design ready, and more often than not the firm got the order.

Now and then I made a hit. One of my designs of that day was all over London on every hoarding just after 1918. It was for Caley’s Christmas Crackers … I realise that my School of Art training in the antique and life gave me advantages.

Elizabethan Apprentices running up the Street

Another reason for being able to deal with these designs was that I continually went on from one thing to another, and became trained to invent and draw out of my head without the model.

Horse and a Trap in a Bustling Street. Watercolour
The Rendez-vous. Oil on canvas.
A Dandy in the Park. Watercolour and bodycololour
The Fisherman and his Dog

Alfred Munnings, An Artist’s Life, 1950