Leonard Beaumont

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Leonard Beaumont
Leonard Beaumont printing his etching 'Fribourg', 1928.jpg
Leonard Beaumont printing his etching 'Fribourg', 1928
Born 1891
Broomhall, Sheffield, England
Died 1986 (aged 94–95)

Leonard Beaumont (1891–1986) was an English printmaker, graphic designer, illustrator and publisher. He was one of the earliest exponents of the new art of linocut printmaking in Britain during the early 1930s. He was one of a small group of progressive and highly regarded printmakers who exhibited at the Redfern and Ward Galleries in central London. Whilst working in relative isolation in Yorkshire, most of his contemporaries were linked in some way to the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, located in Pimlico, London.

Early life and career[edit]

Beaumont was born and raised in Broomhall, Sheffield. Whilst studying evening classes at The Sheffield Technical School of Art he was employed by The Sheffield Daily Telegraph newspaper to produce black and white advertisements. He was awarded a full-time scholarship, however his artistic career was cut short by the outbreak of World War One, in which he served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves in India and Ceylon (1915–1918). After the war he re-joined the art department of the Sheffield Telegraph. He married Gertrude Roberts in 1921 and shared a joint passion for Russian politics, film and literature.

Printmaker and book publisher[edit]

He taught himself how to produce etchings after reading E. S. Lumsden's book 'The Art of Etching' (1925).[1] He travelled extensively throughout mainland Europe and produced his first significant collection of etchings, several of which were shown in London at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibitions (1929–1933). He designed and built his own printing press which he installed in his home. He was elected a member of several important printmaking societies in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. His etchings were highly praised by the two preeminent critics of the day, Malcolm Charles Salaman and Campbell Dodgson.

His etchings were essentially topographical views, reinterpretations of sketches produced whilst on holiday in Continental Europe.[2] However it is his work as a linocut printmaker where his reputation now rests. Inspired by Claude Flight [3] he produced most of his distinctive linocuts over a four-year period (1930–1934). His most notable works were exhibited throughout Great Britain and subsequently North America.[4] As a result, his prints were acquired by several notable public art collections, including The British Museum, London, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, The National Gallery of Canada and Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

He published three books under his own imprint, Eismeer Press; ‘The Art of Linoleum’ (1932) and 'Rhymes & Rhythms for Young People' (1933). Both publications are rare examples produced during the inter-war years which incorporate original linocuts. His next publication ‘To Daffadills’ (1934) incorporated a delicate wood engraving around Robert Herrick’s 17th century ode to the brevity of spring. The success of these publications led to several commissions for book illustrations and began a lifelong association with Sir Francis Meynell, the founder of Nonsuch Press.[5] He also designed a series of ground-breaking brochures and advertisements for the steel and engineering firm, Edgar Allen & Co in 1935/36.[6]

The Sheffield Print Club[edit]

Beaumont co-founded the Sheffield Print Club, with fellow Sheffield artists, Stanley Royle and Henry G. Hoyland in 1930. He produced the annual editioned print for 1932, an topographical view of a Swiss mountain chalet entitled ‘The Club Hut’, a copy of which is held in the British Museum.[7]

Graphic designer and corporate branding[edit]

In 1936 he moved to London and became Art Director in the Publicity Department of United Artists Film Distributors. Two years later he was appointed Head of the Design Unit at the London advertising agency, Crowther & Mather. Following the onset of World War II, he worked on war propaganda for the British Government, including print and publicity for the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Food and several award-winning campaigns for the General Post Office.[8]

He was elected a member of the Society of Industrial Artists (London) in 1942. His poster work 'Ideals and Aspirations of the U.N.' received 'an honourable mention' in the 1947 U.N. Poster Competition, an open-submission to all professional artists and designers from around the world. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists (FSIA) in 1947. He was one of fourteen shortlisted designers to submit proposals for commemorative British stamps for the 1948 London Olympic Games.[9]

He was appointed the first design consultant for the supermarket giant, J. Sainsbury Limited in 1950. He revolutionised the company's approach to design, packaging and corporate branding. He also undertook a wide variety of freelance design work, including the front cover artwork for the 'Illustrated Review of British Goods' for the 1951 Festival of Britain.[10]

Re-evaluation of his printwork[edit]

He retired from Sainsbury's in 1964 and took up black and white photography. An exhibition of his linocuts was held at the Crest Gallery, London (1982) and a major retrospective exhibition, 'Leonard Beaumont : Artist-Designer' was held at the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield (1983). An exhibition mounted after he bequeathed his own collection of over 80 prints and original artwork to Sheffield City Art Galleries (now Museums Sheffield). He died aged 95 in Hathersage, Derbyshire in 1986.[11]

Beaumont’s linocuts are now enjoying a renewed appreciation, and with this resurgence of interest Museums Sheffield organised ‘The Power of The Print: Leonard Beaumont Rediscovered’, at the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield in 2013 (curated by Sian Brown).[12] To coincide with this exhibition a monograph 'Leonard Beaumont – A Biography & Print Catalogue Raisonné' was published.


  1. ^ Lumsden, Ernest Stephen. 'The Art of Etching' (Seely, Service and Co. Ltd. London 1925).
  2. ^ Salaman, Malcolm Charles. 'Fine Prints of the Year: 9th Annual Review of Contemporary Etching & Engravings’. Halton & Co. Ltd., London 1931 (p.2 pl.7); Salaman, Malcolm Charles. ‘Fine Prints of the Year: 10th Annual Review of Contemporary Etching & Engravings’. Halton & Co. Ltd., London 1932 (p.2 pl.8); Dodgson, Campbell. ‘Leonard Beaumont’, Print Collectors Quarterly. Published by J.M. Dent and Sons, London. April 1933 (Volume 20 No.2 p.158-167); Salaman, Malcolm Charles. ‘Fine Prints of the Year: 11th Annual Review of Contemporary Etching & Engravings’. Halton & Co. Ltd., London 1933 (p.2 pl.7); Salaman, Malcolm Charles, ‘Fine Prints of the Year: 12th Annual Review of Contemporary Etching & Engravings’. Halton & Co. Ltd., London 1934 (p.2 pl.5).
  3. ^ Flight, Claude. ‘Lino-Cuts: A Handbook of Linoleum-Cut Colour Printing’ John Lane, The Bodley Head, London 1927.
  4. ^ ‘Original Lino-Cuts’, Sheffield Daily Independent 1 June 1933; ‘A Sheffield Artist’, Sheffield Daily Telegraph 15 June 1933; ‘Colour Prints and Paintings: Measure of A Medium’, The Morning Post 3 June 1933; ‘Scottish Art Shown in London: Modernist Approach’, The Bulletin and Scots Pictorial 20 June 1933; ‘Art Exhibitions’ Review of ‘Colour Prints’ exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, London. The Morning Post 12 July 1934; Luther Carey, Elisabeth. ‘Print Shows’, The Brooklyn Museum Quarterly. October 1934 (No.4 p.98).
  5. ^ Meynell, Sir Francis. ‘My Lives’, The Bodley Head Limited, London 1971.
  6. ^ Simons, Eric N. ‘Redesign Of A Steel Works’ Propaganda’, Art & Industry 1937 (p.75-76).
  7. ^ Beaumont, Leonard. ‘Letter to the Editor’ (The Sheffield Print Club), Sheffield Daily Telegraph 22 January 1930; Carr, Bernard James. Sheffield Print Club, Progress of New Art Venture’, The Sheffield Daily Telegraph 12 February 1930; ‘Sheffield Print Club’, Creative Art, April 1930; Earp, T. W. ‘Sheffield Print Club’, The Studio July 1930 p.293; Carr, Bernard James. ‘First Year of New Art Enterprise – Sheffield Print Club’, Sheffield Daily Telegraph 14 January 1931; Beaumont, Leonard. The Sheffield Print Club Prospectus 1932.
  8. ^ Rennie, Paul. GPO Design Posters. Published by Antique Collector’s Club Ltd. Woodbridge, Suffolk 2009.
  9. ^ 'Design Goes Around The World', Illustrated 9 August 1947 (p.23); ‘United Nation Organisation Poster Competition', Art & Industry October 194& (Vol. 43 p.118) ; ‘Has Design in U.N. Exhibition' Sheffield Daily Telegraph 25 November 1947.
  10. ^ Design in the Festival (Guide) – The Festival of Britain (1951) Published by The Council of Industrial Design; ‘Designers in Britain 3: A Biennial Review of Graphic and Industrial Design (The Great Exhibition 1851 – The Festival of Britain 1951) Compiled by the Society of Industrial Artists, London and published by Allan Wingate, London 1951 (Design for marketing and publishing selected by Leonard Beaumont, Lynton Lamb and F. H. K. Henrion); Carrington, Noel & Harris, Muriel (Ed.), 'British Achievement in Design', The Pilot Press Ltd., London c.1953; Spencer, Herbert (Ed.), 'Designers in Britain 4'. Compiled by the Society of Industrial Artists, London and published by Allan Wingate, London. 1954; Wainwright, David. 'Sainsbury – 100 Years of Respect for the Customer', The Design Journal 1966 (p.46-47); Fairchild, Gillian. 'This Will Sell, Sir', Sainsbury's 125 Years Celebration Supplement. New Crane Publishing Ltd., London 1994 (p.36-37).
  11. ^ Leonard Beaumont: Prints of the 1930s Crest Gallery, London 1982; Barnes, Janet. Leonard Beaumont, Artist-Designer. Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, 5–27 February 1983; Field, Michael. ‘Major Exhibition – at 91’ The Sheffield Star 12 January 1983 (p.8); ‘Designer Who Spearhead Film Advertising Revolution’, Sheffield Morning Telegraph 21 January 1983 (p.6); Holloway, Michael. ‘A Master of His Line’ Sheffield Morning Telegraph 26 January 1983 (p.6); Watson, Keith. ‘Discerning Eye’ Sheffield Morning Telegraph 5 February 1983 (p.3); Hogg, Mary. ‘Leonard Beaumont’, Sheffield Art Review. Published by The Sheffield Society for the Encouragement of Art. 1991 (p.2-5).
  12. ^ Samuel, Gordon. British Linocuts of the 1920s & 1930s. Redfern Gallery, London, March 1985; Samuel, Gordon. British Prints 1914–1945 (Cat. II). Redfern Gallery, London, April 1985; Urbanelli, Lora S. The Grosvenor School: British Linocuts Between the Wars, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (and tour) 1988; Ackley, Clifford S. (Editor) British Prints from the Machine Age – Rhythms of Modern Life 1914–1939. Museum of Fine Art, Boston & Metropolitan Museum, New York (and tour). Thames & Hudson, London, 2008.