Walter Ernest Spradbery (1889 – 1969)

Temple Church and Library after Bombardment (1944)



66 x 57 cm

Walter Spradbery’s poster for the London Underground depicting a bombed Temple Church; a rainbow strikes hopefully out of the church’s remains, and the sun shines on the golden stone of the building. The full poster bears the legend ‘The Proud City’ above Spradbery’s design, and, beneath it, a quote from Charles Lamb: ‘So may the winged horse, your ancient badge and cognisance, still flourish!’. This is a fantastic piece of British and London history, as well as a fantastically designed poster by a notable 20th century artist. The London Transport Museum has a copy of the poster, reference 1983/4/5751.

‘The Proud City’ was a series of six posters, all designed by Spradbery. They were commissioned by London Transport in 1944 as a defiant celebration of London’s surviving the Blitz, and each poster also included a literary quotation.

Walter Ernest Spradbery was a designer, painter, and poet who lived through the First and Second World Wars. He produced posters for LNER, Southern Railways, and London Transport, and was noted for his fascination with architecture and landscape. He studied, and later taught, at the Walthamstow School of Art. He was a pacifist and campaigned for nuclear disarmament, serving in the Medical Corps during the First World War and painting scenes of warfare for its duration, as well as during the Second World War. His anti-war stance and the horrors he had witnessed as a medic fed into his post-war poster design, especially ‘The Proud City’ poster series.

Condition: generally very good.

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