COINCIDING with the upcoming London Fashion Week, a exhibition of work by the illustrator and designer Anthony Gilbert is on show at Cork Street art dealers Messum’s. Trained at Goldsmith’s College, London, Gilbert (1916-95) was hired by the London office of the advertising company of J Walter Thompson in 1943 (and worked for next 25 years), and where was responsible for many outstanding designs for companies such as Rowntree’s, Horlick’s and Rose’s Lime Juice and the mantelclock for After Eight mints which is still used on their packaging. As well as this, from the 1940s to ‘70s, Gilbert was illustrator for publications like Vogue, House and Garden, The Strand, Lilliput and Radio Times.
The show at Messum’s, will centre on the dedication of his wife, Ann, (his lifelong model and muse) who encouraged Gilbert to continue creating his illustrations after he retired from J Walter Thompson. Original designs from Gilbert’s estate will be available to purchase from Messum’s.
His work reflects his elegant taste, huge knowledge of design, and unique ability to marry kaleidoscopic and striking geometric patterns with the rigorous formal qualities of his work. Nowadays Gilbert is regarded as part of the tradition of great English illustrators, such as Aubrey Beardsley.
The painter and designer Willie Landels, later to become the first editor of Harpers & Queen, first got to know Gilbert when he worked on the Festival of Britain murals. Later he recalled how, although they worked together for many years, “Anthony was not easy to know – always immaculately dressed, the epitome of an English gentleman, he was also shy and reserved and not easily taken in conversation … but his work held so much appeal.”
by Caroline Simpson
The show at Messum’s runs from September 14-25 September. Tel: +44 (0)20 7437 5545
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 10am – 4pm