Berkshire Landscape, 1916
Framed (ref: 581)
Inscribed with title and dated on recto, with a dedication
on verso to the painter Douglas Fox-Pitt, 1919
Oil on panel, 12 x 13 3/4 in. (30.5 × 35 cm.)
Provenance: The Fine Art Society
It has been suggested that this landscape looks towards Pewsey or Lambourne Downs. The clumps of beeches that crest the hill-tops are certainly characteristic of the Berkshire landscape, although the colour of the red roof tiles, made from local red-brown clay, has been heightened for pictorial reasons; McKnight Kauffer punctuated his poster designs for Shell with the same bright reds. This pictorial device, coupled with the strong influence of Paul Cézanne, gives the landscape a feeling more readily associated with the South of France than Berkshire.
McKnight Kauffer’s Wood Interior, painted a year earlier (Government Art Collection no. 16578), has many stylistic affinities with this work.
We are grateful to Michael Barker and Lis and Gabriel Cave for assistance.
E McKnight Kauffer (1890–1954)
designer who also did some textile and theatrical work, painted and illustrated
books and magazines. Born in America
at Great Falls, Montana,
Kauffer grew up in Evansville,
Indiana, where was assistant
scene painter in the opera house. His early training as a painter was in San Francisco and at the
Art Institute of Chicago, where he saw the controversial Armory Show of modern
European art. A patron assisted him to study in continental Europe where in Paris he was influenced
by Van Gogh's work. Resolved to support himself by poster design, at the
outbreak of World War I he had to flee to London
where he associated with painters such as Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner and
gained commissions for the Underground Electric Railways Company. For the next
quarter-century he was the main designer of posters for London Underground
under Frank Pick's patronage. Did work for Roger Fry's Omega Workshops, helped
to found Group X with Wyndham Lewis and early in the 1920s returned for a while
to New York,
where he designed for the Theatre Guild. Showed at Goupil Gallery, Arthur Tooth
and Son and NEAC. Illustrated for periodicals such as Radio Times and Fanfare
and books such as Arnold Bennett's Elsie and the Child, 1929, 'I' S Eliot's
Triumphal March, 1931, and Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poems and Stories, 1946.
However, his reputation rests mainly on his outstanding contribution to modern
British poster design, inspired by Cubism and Vorticism, working for such
clients as Shell-Mex and BP, the General Post Office and Imperial Airways. His
Soaring to Success - the Early Bird poster, used by the Daily Herald,
epitomised Kauffer's aspirations as a designer. After the outbreak of World War
11 Kauffer, who married the designer Marian Dorn, returned to New York. Victoria & Albert Museum
travelling exhibition in 1973.
See all works by E McKnight Kauffer