Monday, 3 September 2018

Lawson Wood – part 1


Lawson Wood was born on 23 August 1878 in Highgate, London, the son of landscape artist Pinhorn Wood, and the grandson of architectural artist L.J. Wood. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, Heatherley's School of Fine Art and Frank Calderon's School of Animal Painting.
In 1896, he was employed with periodical publisher C. Arthur Pearson Ltd. In 1902, he married Charlotte Forge. From the age of 24 he pursued a successful freelance career and was published in The Graphic, The Strand Magazine, Punch, The Illustrated London News, and Boys Own Paper. He illustrated a number of books including The Invaders by Louis Tracy in 1901 for Pearson.
By 1906 his comic style was at its best; clean-lined and colourful and his sense of humour sharp and observant. It was in this year and in those immediately following that he produced some of his most impressive work. Lawson Wood's popularity and his reputation as a leading comic artist were well established. He was especially noted for his "prehistoric" humour that paired stone-age humans with caricatures of dinosaurs.

1905-10c Pre-historic Courtship No.2 Dismissing a rival.

An active member of the London Sketch Club, Lawson Wood was a close friend of one of its most famous and well-loved members, Tom Browne. The time of his membership in the early days of the century was his madcap Bohemian period, when the influence of fellow Sketch Club members, in particular Browne, is evident. It has also come to be recognised as his golden period artistically. Wood was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and showed prolifically with Walker's Galleries and Brook Street Art Gallery and also at the Royal Academy.
During the First World War, Lawson Wood served as an officer in the Kite Balloon Wing of the Royal Flying Corps engaged in one of the war's most dangerous tasks - plane spotting from a balloon. This he undertook with gallantry. Indeed, the French decorated him for his action over Vimy Ridge. Despite his active service, Wood continued to draw, and Dobson Molle & Co. published the patriotic designs he produced during the war.
Once peace returned, Lawson Wood's love of animals came to the fore in his work. To ensure accuracy of detail, Lawson Wood regularly visited London Zoo and a small menagerie in Eastbourne, The Wannock Tea Garden. Inter-Art and Valentine published many of his designs. He also set up a factory producing "The Lawson Woodies" simple wooden toys of animals, birds and humans to his own designs.

"The Lawson Woodies" at Sidmouth Museum, Devon, UK
Photo by Alan Pipes

Lawson Wood gained immense popularity with his humorous drawings of comic policemen, dinosaurs, prehistoric and Stone Age characters, and apes and monkeys often seen performing absurd antics against immaculate, dead-pan backgrounds. Eventually Gran'pop, the artful ginger ape and the rest of the chimpanzee family were to bring him fame on both sides of the Atlantic. The Gran'pop's Annuals were a yearly excursion into comic absurdities that were popular around the world.

1950 Gran'pop's Annual published by Dean & Son

In 1934 Wood was awarded a fellowship of the Royal Zoological Society for his active work with animals and their welfare. He set up his own animal sanctuary for aged creatures.
Towards the end of his life he lived as something of a recluse in a 15th century medieval manor house which he discovered in the heart of Sussex and which he moved brick by brick to the loveliest part of the Kent and Sussex borders. He died there on 26 October 1957 at the age of 79.
Biography by Jayne Felicity Smith of Guggenheim Pictorials



This is part 1 of a 10-part series on the works of Lawson Wood:


1903 The Bystander
"Knowledge Puffeth up the Little Man"
 September 6 1903

1905 Harper's Weekly
"Adding Insult to Injury."

1905 The Children's Song Book

1905 The Sketch
 Freak Dinners: An anticipation of a suburban imitation.

1905 The Sketch
With the Fleet - at Earl's Court

1905 The Sketch
Railway-advice to travellers:
 "To avoid personal trouble - send you luggage in advance!"

1905 The Sketch
Simplicity is the victim of invention.

1905 The Sketch
The retort obvious and discourteous.
1905-10c Pre-historic Courtship
No.3 "Marriage"

1905-10c Pre-historic Courtship No.4
"Off for the Honeymoon"

1905-10c Pre-historic Courtship No.5
"The first tiff"

1905-10c Pre-historic Courtship No.6
"Divorce"

1906 Deliver us from evil, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
watercolour and bodycolour 33.6 x 24.8 cm

1906 How to Spend a Happy Day. ( How to be photographed. )
postcard

1906 The Bystander Jumping to Conclusions
July 15 1906

1906 The Sketch
"Carrot and Soda, or Turnip Squash, Sir?"
August 1 1906

1906 The Sketch
 "What is one among so many?" The Bread-Winner
August 15 1906

1906 The Sketch
A Variety Entertainment at Henley
July 4 1906

1906 The Sketch
Duty Before All
March 14 1906

1906 The Sketch
Fie, Fido!
February 14 1906

1906 The Sketch
For Gentlemen of leisure: Back to the land.
May 30 1906

1906 The Sketch
Love's young dream
February 28 1906

1906 The Sketch
Baby as an undesirable.
May 16 1906

1906 The Sketch
Origins of modern etiquette
January 3 1906

1906 The Sketch
Origins of modern etiquette
 January 10 1906

1906 The Sketch
Origins of Modern Etiquette
January 17 1906

1906 The Sketch
Origins of Modern Etiquette
 January 24 1906

1906 The Sketch
 Origins of Modern Etiquette
 January 31 1906

1906 The Sketch. Prehistoric People.
Consternation of the domestic circle on finding the "Broker's Man" in
March 7 1906

1906 The Sketch
Short Notice!
June 6 1906

1906 The Sketch
The amateur snail-hunter
 March 21 1906

1906 The Sketch
The better part of valour.
 "Prenez Garde!"
April 4 1906

1906 The Sketch
The Dream that Failed.
February 21 1906

1906 The Sketch
Why not a "Triangle camp" on the terrace?
A pictorial hint to land-grabbers - from Manchester or Plaistow.
July 25 1906

1906c How to Spend a Happy Day
postcard

1907 The Sketch
A Sure Catch.
Expecting a bite.
 March 7 1906

1907 The staff artist
pen and ink 22.9 x 29.2 cm

1908 "Coming thro' the rye"
The Pictorial Stationery Co. "Peacock" Series postcard

1908 Doings of the Little Brother
Shows his new Mask to the Butler
postcard

1908 How to scout: "When finding any small party without an escort, capture it immediately."
postcard

1909 Flying Tips
postcard

1909 Rules for Rollers "All the novice has to do is to learn to 'walk' with ease and grace."
postcard

1909 Untitled

1910 Brush Pen and Pencil
The Book of Lawson Wood.

1910c "Swank."
postcard

1910c Small Fry.
postcard

1910c The Price of a Pear.
postcard

1910s Sweet Sir?
postcard

1912 In Disgrace.
 postcard

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