Friday, 24 December 2010

Let it snow

After yesterday’s visit to the dark side of Christmas we turn to something a little lighter in both tone and hue. Refrigerated rainfall, popularly and more concisely known as snow is much in our minds at the present. This is day 8 of life under a covering of 20 cm. in the balmy South West so on this slender pretext, images of snow excavated from the archive follow below. At the top is W Heath Robinson, with a typically inventive piece on the cover of The Humorist in 1938. Below is a Good Housekeeping cover from 1945 presented in isometric splendour by the dashingly named Clixby Watson. Next is a cosy Alfred Bestall cover for the 1949 Rupert Annual from the days when it was issued in a thin card wrapper. This Year Next Year, published in 1937 supplies the image of a snowman from the incomparable Harold Jones, a true master when it came to conveying the uniquely English discomforts of wind and weather and the way they shaped our landscape and cultural traditions. The snow plough is the endpaper from Virginia Lee Burton’s Katy and the Big Snow (1943) where female stereotypes were challenged by naming the snowplough Katy. The cross-cultural encounter in the frozen wastes is from another favourite illustrator Clifford Webb (more about him here) – North Pole Before Lunch, published in 1936. The last image is a Bruegel pastiche painted by Peter Brookes from about 1980. Brookes had a genius for creatively reworking the Old Masters and was a regular illustrator for Radio Times in the 1970s and last time I looked, still working as a political cartoonist for The Times.

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