Clifford and Rosemary Ellis
West End Map of London

Lithographic poster for London Transport, 1935
Printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd
Provenance: the studio of the artist.

London Transport was the fore-runner of London Underground. During the 1930s London Transport commissioned over forty posters a year from well-known artists such as Laura Knight, CRW Nevinson, Edward Wadsworth, Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Edward McKnight Kauffer – a bold policy that did much to popularise avant-garde artistic styles that stemmed from Cubism, Futurism and Abstraction. Such an influence is clear in the Ellises poster ‘It’s better to shop early’ in which arms, hands and parcels are disjointed and angular with the text on a slant, like the collaged newsprint insertions of synthetic Cubism.

The stocking and parcels clearly refer to Christmas, although the poster does not explicitly state this.

Born in Bognor in Sussex and trained at St Martin’s School of Art and Regent Street Polytechnic, Ellis was a graphic artist and illustrator who is best known for the posters he produced for London Transport during the 1930s. He generally collaborated with his wife Rosemary – whom he married in 1931 – on their posters. The General Post Office, Shell, and The Empire Marketing Board were also clients for their posters. They signed their posters C&RE, their initials being in alphabetical order and they are readily recognisable by their ebullient use of colour and form.

Employed during the war as a camoufleur, along with so many other artists, Clifford was also an official war artist, serving with the Grenadier Guards. Rosemary, meanwhile, was an artist for the Recording Britain project.

Following the war they trained art teachers at Bath Academy of Art. They also designed a series of nearly one hundred book jackets for Collins New Naturalist series, published between 1945 and 1982.

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