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John Minton A productive short life part 4

January 26, 2018

  John Minton Illustration by Fishink

Welcome to the fourth and final post about the work of John Minton. I hope you have been enjoying exploring his work as much as I have by telling his story.

I was extremely fortunate to obtain this copy of a new book (published last year) by The Mainstone Press and written by Martin Salisbury, called ” The Snail That Climbed The Eiffel Tower and Other Work by John Minton ” It’s a beautiful volume, with 350 examples of John Minton’s painting, illustration and editorial work, featured over 240 stunningly weighty pages. This book concentrates on John’s more illustrative pieces, covering book jackets, advertising, stamps, film posters, leaflets, magazine articles and even wallpapers.

Taken from the book… ” JOHN MINTON (1917—1957) may be best known today as a gifted post-war painter of the nee-romantic movement, but he produced some of his most inspired work as a commercial illustrator. Remarkably, even as interest in mid-twentieth-century art and design has grown considerably in recent years, Minton’s prolific output as a graphic artist — achieved during a working life of little more than a decade, has not gained the recognition it greatly deserves. One hundred years after his birth, this book gathers together for the first time Minton’s commercial graphic work, including many rare and previously unseen pieces, to celebrate a major force in the distinguished history of British illustration. ”

You can see from the contents page alone what a wealth of subjects are covered in this book.

I still struggle to appreciate just how much work, and such varied work at that, that John managed to produce during his short lifetime. It’s only recently that his portfolio is being both recognised, acknowledged and indeed triumphed.

Here’s a few poster campaigns that would have appeared in journals in the 1950’s.

The BBC, GPO, British Rail and numerous book publishers all sought out John’s work for their advertising campaigns and book covers.

A couple of film posters from the 40’s and 50’s created for Ealing Studios in London.

John had a very naturalistic, yet descriptive ability to portray a place or setting to a reader.

You can easily get a sense of what’s happening in these illustrations without even the need for an accompanying written explanation.

Even the post office wanted John to illustrate for their stamps.

He was said to be a hard-working perfectionist. Perhaps the comical study below portraying the young artist, reveals so much about John as an illustrator and determined creative.

I love this colourful piece for the Engravers monthly magazine ‘Process’.

In particular, this wonderful study of industrial Britain in the 1950’s. Such amazing colours and textures.

If you’ve enjoyed the images in today’s post especially then it’s well worth grabbing yourself a copy of the book, which you can order through the Mainstone Press here.

Now that you’ve seen an extensive collection of John’s work this week, what appeals to you the most and why ? Do leave me a comment, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on John’s work.












6 Comments leave one →
  1. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia permalink
    January 26, 2018 11:03 am

    Thanks for introducing us all to this superb artist. I realise now, that the many children’s novels I had as a kid in the 1970s, must have been illustrated by Minton in the 1950s – I recognised his style straight away – the dust jackets and chapter headings of books by Eleanor Farjeon and Rosemary Sutcliffe – those deftly sketched illustrations made a strong impression on me as a kid. I admire the confident looseness of his style, which somehow manages to be delightfully detailed, at the same time.
    The work I love most of all, is his cover for’ Time Was Away’ – the way he captured that moonlight on the sea, with just a few strokes of the pen, was divine. I’ve actually printed that drawing off to stick on my wall.
    My only quibble with Minton is that he seemed very uncomfortable drawing women – they hardly appear in his work at all! He obviously did not enjoy looking at them. I wonder if he had a rocky relationship with his mother, and this may have triggered his battle with depression – a battle that the poor chap eventually lost.

    • January 26, 2018 1:54 pm

      Thanks Deidre for you detailed and well considered comment. I agree about the Time Was Away cover, it’s wonderfully done. I wish I could work as loosely yet detailed as his style suggests. Great to be able to put a name to those familiar covers for you too.

  2. Jen W. permalink
    January 26, 2018 4:50 pm

    What a great talent. I love the line drawings best, and his use of color is so emblematic of the period. Thank you for sharing this work; it’s a treat for the eyeballs!

    • January 26, 2018 5:04 pm

      Thanks Jen, for your thoughts, it’s always interesting to know what styles appeal the most to different folk.

  3. permalink
    February 5, 2018 10:33 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for the postings on John Minton. I had known of his illustration work since buying a copy of Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean cooking in a charity shop which I had bought just because I liked the illustrations many moons ago. I went to the exhibition at Pallant House because of this. I was completely bowled over by his work. Many of the paintings featured in your blog I have never seen before. Thank you for highlighting this artist.
    Also, I went to see the Ravillous and friends at the Towner in Eastbourne I’m lucky I live on the south coast and have been able to see these 2 exhibitions. It’s well worth a visit so much so I’m considering coming to see it at Compton Verney as I so enjoyed it so much (I will admit I am a fan of Ravillious) and have never been to Compton Verney.

    • February 6, 2018 8:31 am

      Thanks for your comment Tina. There’s so many times I’ve wanted to go to the Towner gallery, you’re lucky to live so near. I did see the Ravilious one from about 3years ago at the East Dulwich gallery, which was amazing too. Apparently there’s a John Piper one at the Tate Liverpool til mid March, which you might also like.

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