A treat for all the family
A new biography on the artist-illustrator Edward Ardizzone and a retrospective exhibition dedicated to his work provide Peyton Skipwith with a feast of delights
fat little tits bursting out of little white blouses and fat little behinds in tight black skirts’.
Ardizzone’s eye was ever keen for such detail, whether on home territory in Maida Vale, in an army hospital, the souks of Cairo or the back streets of Naples. His pen deftly captured the seedy pub life of Elgin Avenue, bargaining Arabs, Scottish soldiers bemused by nude sculptures in the museum at Leptis Magna and the wry humour of the burial party on the road to Tripoli taking a break from their grisly task. However, even in the most macabre of these scenes, ‘cheerfulness will keep breaking in’, as Osbert Lancaster noted.
In addition to books and his war work, Ardizzone drew posters for Shell and Guinness. His lithograph The Fattest Woman in the World, inspired by The Guinness Book of Records, with its fairground advertising and scratching dog, is definitely not politically correct and shows Ardizzone’s childish delight in overstepping the mark. In contrast are his 1967 Birthday Greetings Telegram for the Royal Mail and his menu designs for Overton’s.
One of the latter shows the interior of the restaurant full of red-faced men, décolletée ladies, lobsters, bottles, glasses and cigars. The general air of bonhomie and good living this lithograph exudes is surely, as the author says, ‘one of the most appropriate uses of Ardizzone’s talent’. He enjoyed life as he recorded it and was neither prurient nor puritan. Ardizzone’s original artwork, and much else besides, can be seen until January 22, 2017, in ‘Ardizzone: A Retrospective’ at House of Illustration, 2, Granary Square, London N1 (www. houseofillustration.org.uk; 020–3696 2020)
A vignette from Ardizzone’s Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain