Tuesday 10 June 2008
Ellis Martin (1881-1977), Master of the Open Road
Ellis Martin supplied outstanding cover illustrations for Ordnance Survey (OS) maps for two decades between the wars and the images he produced have come to epitomise a golden age of travel and exploration when the pedestrian and the motor car coexisted on more or less equal terms. When he began drawing for the OS in 1919 the typical rambler wore plus fours and a Norfolk jacket. By the time he retired in 1939 the typical outfit was a less formal khaki slacks and short-sleeved pullover with shirt sleeves rolled up. He effortlessly evokes the luxuriance of high summer vegetation and the rolling hills and deep wooded folds of the British countryside. Open topped cars, green country buses, bulging rucksacks, a pipe full of tobacco and best feet forward are the order of the day. In his excellent book, Map Cover Art (1990), the definitive guide to OS graphics, John Paddy Brown describes Ellis Martin as “the Cycling Age and the Motoring Age and the Rambling Age personified”.