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The Illustrators - Chris Beetles Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOR 25 years, The Chris Beetles Gallery has been famous for promoting the art and history of Illustration. To celebrate, an exhibition entitled The Illustrators: The British Art of Illustration 1800 – 2007 runs from November 24, 2007 to January 5, 2008.

Speaking about the exhibition, Chris Beetles said:

“Illustration is a visual feast, it is comforting nostalgia and literary obsession expressed in so many ways from rambunctious 19th century narrative to nursery delight, from Thomas Rowlandson to Quentin Blake. We are going to celebrate the art of illustration in all its glory with one of the biggest and comprehensive exhibitions in the world.”

Starting with Thomas Rowlandson, visitors can navigate their way through Regency satire to the glorious era of Victorian Punch illustrations when artists like Sir John Tenniel, George Du Maurier, and Linley Sambourne entertained the public with their witty, accomplished cartoons.

Next comes the twentieth century when, during the first 40 years, Arthur Rackham, E H Shepard, and William Heath Robinson dominated the British illustration scene. All three are represented heavily in the exhibition with large groups of their most popular work on display including drawings from Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens, The House At Pooh Corner, and a number of Heath Robinson’s contraptions.

Alongside these will be displayed work by their contemporaries including Louis Wain, Edmund Dulac, Walter Crane, Mabel Lucie Attwell, Kate Greenaway, H M Bateman, and a host of other much loved illustrators.

The generation to follow these is perhaps the most familiar to people today. Both adults and children will delight in seeing quantities of original work by Ronald Searle, Norman Thelwell, Edward Ardizzone, Mervyn Peake, Giles, Rowland Emett, and many more favourites from post-war magazines, newspapers, comics and children’s books.

The exhibition ends bringing illustration up to date with examples of the best contemporary work from illustrators Quentin Blake, Michael Foreman, Peter Cross, Paul Cox and Helen Oxenbury. Also included will be the quick wit of newspaper cartoonists Peter Brookes, Matt, Nick Newman, Kipper Williams, Mac and, from across the Atlantic, the great American satirist Ed Sorel.

Accompanying the exhibition will be the gallery’s biggest ever catalogue. Its 450 pages of academic essays, erudite biographies, full bibliographies and over 700 full colour images will represent the most comprehensive text on illustration published to date. It will be available from the gallery for £25 + £5 postage (UK only).

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 and 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB.

Times: Daily from 10am to 5.30pm.

For more information call 0207 839 7551 or visit the website.