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Daphne Padden All together

December 14, 2020

Hello everyone, I hope this finds you well, on this last but one post for 2020. I have decided to bring together two back posts on the work of mid century illustrator Daphne Padden.

Portrait of Daphne Padden (above) painted by her father. British Artist Daphne Padden was born on 21st May 1927, the daughter of Percy Padden who was also an travel poster illustrator working in the 20’s and 30’s.

Her strongest work (in my mind) is the work she created from the late 50’s to the mid 70’s, working for M&S, Trust House Forte,the Post Office Savings Bank, British European Airways and most famously the British Transport Commission, and in particular the Royal Blue Coach Services.




During the late 70’s she changed direction and became a fine artist, painting in a completely different style altogether, sadly she passed away in September of last year. Thanks to the fantastic Quad RoyalAlison and Amy for the great images and for helping to keep amazing artists such as Daphne remembered in the public eye.

As a great update to this post, one kind Fishink blog reader Aiden. shared a miniature he has of Daphne’s work. So interesting to see her range of styles. Thanks Aiden.


Then in 2017 this happened.

It was way back in 2010 that I first wrote about the advertising work of Daphne Padden. Through that post, Rosemary got in touch who has been organising an exhibition of Daphne’s fine art work. These were available to purchase through the Lincoln Joyce Gallery. She very kindly agreed to let me use the images and info on that site to share with you as an update on Daphne’s later work.

Daphne Padden was educated at Rosebery Grammar School in Epsom and attended the Epsom & Ewell School of Art. After college she became a freelance designer, producing posters and publicity material for the British Transport Commission, the Post Office Savings Bank, the British Diabetic Society, ROSPA, P&O, Trust House Forte and British European Airways. In 1976 she took up painting “for Art’s sake” working in watercolour where her delicate touch in both line and colour gave all her paintings a whimsical feel. Whether it is her studies of wildlife or landscape, the viewers’ eye is always drawn to the natural balance and extraordinary detail that Daphne achieves.

The Padden family originated in County Mayo in Ireland who in the mid 19th Century moved to Wolverhampton in the Midlands working in the iron industries. John Padden from County Mayo came to Wolverhampton where he had 7 children including James Padden , Daphne’s grandfather. James married a local girl Florence Crook from Wednesbury and they had two boys and a girl Percy, Sidney and Lilian Mary.

Daphne’s father was Percy Padden who studied at Wolverhampton College of Art and became an Art Master. He was discharged from the Army as unfit after enlisting in October 1917. Discharged on 27th December 1917 in London where he remained, trained at the Royal College of Art and he went on to become one of the foremost poster designers of the early 20th Century. Percy worked for the Post Office producing sumptuous works advertising cruises on Mail Boats.

In the First Wold War the family was subject to a scare when Percy’s cousin Thomas Bernard Padden who had joined up, was posted and formed part of the expeditionary force into France. Thomas was gassed and reported “missing” in April 1918. It was his wife Maud Padden (nee Browning) who wrote to the military to say he was alive as she had had a card from him to that effect. He survived the war but died shortly after in 1925 having had two children Gwendoline and Clifford.

A Padden marriage in 1917 caused a rift in the family due to religious differences, very prevalent in those days. This left part of their family estranged and isolated. It may have been unconnected or due to a clerical error but in late 1917 Percy listed his religion as Church of England in his Army papers, clearly an error as the family was Catholic. This was certainly not known to his cousin John Padden and his family who were isolated by the rest of the Padden family for his marriage to a Protestant, Leah Bradley.  Percy married Marie Kate Bateman in Lambeth in 1924.

Daphne was born in Lambeth. She studied art and design under her father at Epsom and Ewell School of Art. Working for British Transport Commission, the Post Office Savings Bank, the British Diabetic Society, ROSPA, P&O, Trust House Forte and British European Airways.She was one of our gallery artists.

Daphne was always a very gracious lady, she undervalued her work and was always modest about her achievements which were considerable. She did not drive and always traveled distances by bus.

Little more is known about Daphne but she was elected a member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers in 1984. Her work is exhibited in galleries throughout the South East and London. I hope this helps in showing her and her work in their correct place in art history.

She has a wonderful sense of style and a great command of both watercolour techniques and landscapes. It’s wonderful to see such a change in style, from her work bold, blocked colour layouts for adverts in the fifties and sixties.

You might be surprised to discover that some of these pieces are miniatures, measuring just a couple of inches. Thanks again to Rosemary for letting us all appreciate Daphne’s stunning paintings, and for also fitting another piece into the jigsaw of her life and work.

More links to Daphne’s advertising work on Allison’s Flickr set here and over at Quad Royal here.

I have a real treat for you next Monday, a world exclusive in fact as I have managed to secure a rare interview with the legendary Illustrator Bernice Myers, who is still working now in her nineties ! Don’t miss it, it is a great read !

6 Comments leave one →
  1. lesley1278 permalink
    December 14, 2020 10:22 am

    This is such an interesting article. I love the different styles that Daphne painted.
    John Padden and Leah Bradley were my grandparents. They certainly were estranged it wasnt until about 19 years ago that we found out that my grandad had any relations.
    I found Thomas and Percy’s war records recently too.
    I saw one of Percy’s paintings in the art gallery in Bristol.
    My dad ( son of John and Leah) is now 94 and lives with me in Wolverhampton. I contacted Wolverhampton Art Gallery as I wondered if they could exhibit Percy and Daphnes work.
    I would love to see some originals.

    • December 14, 2020 1:53 pm

      Thank you Lesley, that is a very interesting addition to the story above. So glad you stopped by to say hello. It would be great to see a combined exhibition for certain

  2. December 14, 2020 9:02 pm

    How wonderful and fascinating to see her disparate styles together. I just realized that a vintage tea towel I have is directly lifted from her Hire a Coach poster with the owls!

    • December 14, 2020 9:33 pm

      The posters are practically teatowels already lol ! Interesting to see the link and the original though !

  3. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia permalink
    December 15, 2020 1:58 pm

    i just adore Daphne’s collage work from the 1950s through to the 1970s. Amazing to think it was all done with paper, scissors and glue – no help at all from photoshop in those days!

    A while ago, I was walking past a picture framer’s shop, and saw in the window Daphne’s poster with the 2 old fisherman and the black cat -the Travel Royal Blue advert. It was nicely framed, and selling for $350, so way beyond my budget! I did mention to the chap who owned the shop, did he know it was a Daphne Padden poster. He said – “Who’s she? Never heard of her.” “Well, you have now,” I said – “You should put her name on a card, and stick it next to the price sticker- she was a brilliant artist.” He asked me to write down her name – Padden, with 2 ds I told him!
    A few days later, I walked past the shop again, and he had Daphne’s name prominently displayed beneath the poster. I gave him the thumbs up and a big grin as I waved at the shop keeper through the window. I was thrilled, because artists never signed their travel posters, and Daphne’s delightful posters deserve recognition.
    And I would never have discovered her joyful collage work, if it weren’t for you, Craig! I’m so grateful to you for that – I bet dear old Daphne is too!

    • December 15, 2020 2:59 pm

      Well done for passing it on too Deirdre, we all have to learn it somewhere first 👍. Happy festive break to you

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