|Published||Printed by Jordison & Co. Ltd. c.1950|
|Dimensions||Image 920 x 1160 mm|
The story of railways in Britain is reflected in the development of the railway poster. This commercial art form illustrates the major changes that have occurred in British society over the years and captures the spirit and character of British life. They are social documents of British culture, illustrating the changing styles of art, patterns of holidaymaking, urban and rural landscapes, architecture and fashion. They also reflect the development of railway companies and their design and advertising standards. It is hardly surprising that the "Golden Age" of British railway posters coincided with the quarter-century following the amalgamation in 1923 of almost all of the numerous small independent companies into what came to be known as the "Big Four"railways: the Great Western (GWR); the London, Midland, and Scottish (LMS); the London and North East (LNER); and the Southern (SR). The end of the Great War saw Britain with a public eager to travel - and possessing a well-developed taste for the poster as a medium of advertising. In the latter case the war itself provided continuity for initiatives that began in peacetime, for the recruiting and saving and funding campaigns needed to vanquish the Hun were waged largely on the hoardings.
Nor is it surprising that the main visual thrust of the railway poster campaigns during these years was directed towards the anticipated delights of journey's end, and copies of posters were routinely offered to - and eagerly purchased by - the public, some of whom might indeed have to settle more often for an idyllic image of Britain's coasts or mountains in their rooms than for the real thing.
Fred Taylor was born in London on March 22 1875, the son of William Taylor. Taylor studied briefly at Goldsmith's College, London, where he won a gold medal for his posters, and a travelling scholarship to study in Italy. At some point working in the Waring and Gillow Studio, Taylor was a poster artist, illustrator, decorator and a watercolourist. Particularly noted as a poster artist from 1908 to the 1940s, and was regularly commissioned by the LNER, EMB and shipping companies. Taylor also exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, and other provincial societies. Taylor's designs frequently referred to architectural subjects.
During the Second World War, Taylor was employed on naval camouflage. He also executed commissions for London Transport, including 'Back Room Boys', where the underlying concept and use of central image with a surrounding border were probably taken from A S Hartrick's series of lithographs on war work called Playing the Game, 1918, although 'their finely balanced colouring and their superb draughtsmanship are peculiar to Taylor at his best'. Married to Florence R Sarg, with a son and a daughter, Taylor is also remembered for his decorating work, most notably for ceilings for the former Underwriter's Room at Lloyds of London, and murals for Austin Reed's red laquer room in 1930. He was also the author of a number of publications.
Information from: Livingston, A. and Livingston, I., Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers, 1992, p.187, London Transport Museum Database, February 2000, quoting Riddell, 1994, Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981 (1972), p.55