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Our Piccadilly Artworks

THE FINEST WORKS OF ART FROM THE WORLD’S GREATEST CREATIVE TALENTS.

Fortnum’s connections with the Royal College of Art, Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Art and the Bloomsbury Group provided generations of artists and designers that helped to propel our business into the forefront of art. Commissioning work from artists such as John Banting, Edward Bawden and Ronald Ferns, our store has exhibited some sensational pieces – many of which are still hung proudly throughout the store.
 
 
Below you can explore the works of art and design from some of our most noted illustrators, decorators and artists.

David Shepherd, Charging Bull Elephant.

John Banting (1902-1972)

 

Born in Chelsea, Banting was strongly influenced by Vorticism as a young man, having studied in London and Paris. He set up his studio in Fitzrovia, where he was befriended by members of the Bloomsbury Group.

 

While exhibiting all over Europe, he undertook commercial work, one commission being a huge mural in green and white of leaves for the entrance to Fortnum’s Interior Design Department.

Edward Bawden (1903-1989)

Born in Braintree, Bawden studied at the Cambridge School of Art and Royal College of Art, where he studied under Paul Nash and met Eric Ravilious. His commercial work began with illustrating books and posters for the Curwen Press, and in the early 1930s he was discovered by the Stuart Advertising Agency, owned by H. Stuart Menzies and Marcus Brumwell.

 

His work for them for Fortnum & Mason was immediately successful and highly commercial. He served throughout the Second World War as an artist and began working for Fortnum’s again in the early 1950s, when he produced catalogues in collaboration with the letterist Ruth Gill. In 1957, he produced all the illustrations for The Delectable History of Fortnum & Mason. His last Christmas catalogue for Fortnum’s in 1959 is considered one of his finest.

Ronald Ferns (1925-1997)

An illustrator, designer, cartoonist and surrealist painter in oil and watercolour. While at Saint Martin's School of Art, London, supporting himself by taking commissions to decorate the homes of various London celebrities.

 

In the 1950s, he contributed witty line illustrations, decorations and cartoons to many of the leading periodicals including Lilliput, for which he also painted several striking covers in colour, Punch, Picture Post, Scope, and Good Housekeeping. He also illustrated a series of full-colour booklets for Guinness advertising campaigns.

 

Other important advertising work included elegant watercolour covers for Fortnum & Mason catalogues. He was responsible for designing the Christmas catalogues for Fortnum’s that were illustrated by Edward Bawden.

Ronald Fleming (1896-1968)

One of the design innovators of the 1920s and 1930s, Fleming started the Interior Decorating Department at Fortnum’s. He was responsible for decorating Gertrude Lawrence’s flat in yellow and brown, and commissioned Banting, Messel and de Molas to work on various other commissions for the Interiors Department.

J P Carstairs, Guards at the Tower.

Kathleen Hale (1898-2000)

After growing up in Lancashire, Kathleen Hale moved to Soho in 1918 and got a job designing book jackets for W. H. Smith.

 

Through the painter Frank Potter and Augustus John, she got commissions for painting murals, some of which were for Fortnum & Mason and worked with Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. Her fame lies chiefly with her richly illustrated children’s books about Orlando, the marmalade cat. Her relationship with Fortnum’s endured throughout her life, and she held exhibitions of her paintings in the store, rather than in a more conventional gallery.

Oliver Messel (1904-1978)

Educated at Eton and a student of Henry Tonks at the Slade, Messel impressed his teachers and friends by the masks worn at student parties, which he modelled from wax and papier mâché. This light-hearted affair soon burgeoned into the revival of the ancient art of theatrical mask-making, and he was commissioned to create masks for revues, operas and ballets and this led to designing sets.

 

He took on small commercial commissions at this time, including a catalogue for Fortnum’s and designs for the Interior Decoration Department.

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