An Almanac of Twelve Sports, William Nicholson, artist, British,
1872 – 1949, born in Newark-on-Trent; died in London.
These wonderful humorous prints (May's Lady fishing; June's
plump cricket batter; October's golfer) were originally published
in 1897 with words by Rudyard Kipling. They are a presentation
of Nicholson's unique impressions of English people and pastimes.
William Nicholson's woodblock prints of the 1890's were some
of the most revolutionary British print images of the era.
They used a stylized simplification of shape, and a handling
of perspective and picture space which had had no precedent
in British art. The use of silhouettes composed of pure, flat
tints, the attention paid to lettering and an emphasis on
economy in both image and caption unique for their time.
The Beggarstaffs (Sir William Nicholson, English, 1872-1949
& James Pryde, Scottish, 1866-1941) virtually created
the modern poster, with clear outlines and large areas of
flat color. When they made their début as poster designers
at the Westminster Aquarium exhibition of 1894, they did so
under their chosen pseudonym of 'J. & W. Beggarstaff.'
The name confused some of the reviewers (the journals of the
day are scattered with references to Messrs Biggerstaff, Baggerstaff
and Bickerstaff), but there was little doubt in the critics'
minds about the importance of the work of this new duo. The
two young artists' contributions were praised for both their
formal beauty and their effectiveness as advertisements, and
a tremendous future was predicted for them. Although they
did not have much commercial success during their short period
of collaboration, they have undoubtedly had a significant
influence on the evolution of ideas about the form and function
of posters, and are regarded by many as pioneers of the modern