Thursday 16 October 2014


It's time for a picture - and this one is by way of marking the birthday of the great Edward Ardizzone (born 1900, in Tonkin of all places, in what was then French Indo-China). Ever since I first came across his illustrations in childhood, I've loved Ardizzone's delicate, instantly recognisable style - a style that belongs as much to the 18th century (particularly Rowlandson) as to the 20th. Whatever his subject - and he was a prolific war artist, at home and abroad - there is a sense of good cheer and enjoyment of the world behind almost everything Ardizzone drew. He was a lover of rounded forms and rounded women, and a devotee of that great institution, the English public house. Some of his best informal work was done in the pubs of  Maida Vale, works full of keen enjoyment for every aspect of pub life (he was the perfect choice of illustrator for Maurice Gorham's The Local). The image above shows Home Guards at the Local - it's one of many Ardizzones at the Imperial War Museum. And isn't that Private Frazer ('We're all doomed!') leaning on the bar?

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