() was born in Walmer, Kent, UK. father, who had served in the fleet at the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, was paralysed as the result of an accident on his ship and died at the age of thirty-eight. His mother remarried; her second husband was an officer in the at Chatham who later became . In 1888 John Hassall and his brother were sent on a cattle boat to a ranch in Minnedosa, Manitoba, Canada, to study farming. The two years that he spent there were vital to the development of his imagination and personality. For a time he acted as pathfinder to a group of Sioux.
occupied his spare time with sketching, and his efforts were so much admired that he sent some pen drawings depicting a Manitoba ‘surprise party’ to the , which published them in 1890. He returned home and was sent by his mother to the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp, where he worked under and his son . He studied there for two years, spending six months in Paris at the Académie Julian. In 1893, while abroad he married a fellow student, .
returned to London, where he made his first appearance at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1894 with two large paintings which were hung ‘on the line’. Meanwhile, his drawings were appearing in , , and other papers. In 1895, in answer to a recruiting circular issued by , the printers, entered on a career which lasted for fifty years, earning the title of ‘’ and, in 1939, the grant of a civil-list pension for his services to poster art. When he began, poster advertising as an art was in its infancy. His work was humourous, robust, and simple, with a direct advertising message which nevertheless attained a high standard of decorative art.
In 1901 was elected a member of the , and in 1903 was elected President of the . Also in 1903, his first wife having died in 1900, he married the daughter of the , rector of Dallinghoe, Wickham Market, Suffolk. In 1905 he opened an art school in London, whose students were to include the cartoonist .
was working at this time as a successful illustrator of children's books. He also helped to design the uniform for the . His famous “ tourist poster dates from this period. The poster was still in use after his death and remains an instantly recognisable image.
|1908 G.N.R. (Great northern Railway) |
"Skegness is SO Bracing"
lithographic poster 207 x 134.5 cm
During the First World War he was a special constable in London, and frequently appeared at charity shows, where over 3000 of his drawings were auctioned. In later years he illustrated the works of several British poets, Imcluding , , , and .
During his holidays at Walton on the Naze, Essex, Hassall
accumulated one of the largest private collections of prehistoric flint implements, which substantially contributed to the archaeological history of East Anglia. died at his home, 88 Kensington Park Road, London, on 8 March 1948; he was survived by his second wife.
This is part 1 of an 11-part series on the works of John Hassall:
1899 Bachelor Ballads, and other lazy lyrics
illustrated by J. Hassall
published by Greening & Co., London: