Monday, 7 July 2014

A H Williamson (1907-1994)

Following on from the previous post  ... here I am trying to discover the story behand the art of the woodcut of Caterham.Initially I thought that I was not going to find much but one lead had led to another and so on .. and with luck I will be able to put a spot light on the commercial works of A H Williamson.

A quick search through online auction results failed to reveal much other than a reference to "oil on canvas "Henfield Common" signed A H Williamson" having sold and another titled "Crofter's Cottage, Isle of Skye" (sold $49 in 2004) - the latter result suggested a fuller name of Alexander H Williamson - this somehow led to the work below ....

 A mid 20th Century Printed Nautical Wall Hanging by A H Williamson

Described by the gallery offering it as "A wonderful mid 20th century presentation printed wall hanging by A H Williamson (Printer and Designer, Henfield, W. Sussex) depicting the history of various ships and sailing vessels produced at Yarrow and Co, Glasgow.Brass plaque inscribed "Presented by Yarrow and Co Ltd, Stockstown, Glasgow." Offered with a price of £4250 by www.wakelin-linfield.com

Wow --- $49 to £4250 that is quite some range of values !!

... but Alexander wasn't known as Alexander to the art or commercial world but as "Hardie Williamson" and I now know that he was born in Hull, Yorkshire in 1907 (reference Artists in Britain Since 1945 ) but as a boy his family moved to Edinburgh where he later attended George Heriot's School followed by further study at the Royal College of Art, Design School, graduating in 1932. He went on to teach fabric design at the school, even after it's evacuation to the Ambleside in the Lake District during WWII.

Commercailly he was a prolific designer, apparently creating almost 1650 shapes for Ravenhead Glass ! From 1947, he was employed as consultant designer and during the 27 years he was with the company, he created designs that were produced in their millions for public houses and restaurants and included the Paris goblet, the Dimple beer mug and the Babycham-style Champagne glass. He also designed a range of tableware, the Kilner jar and a collectable range of decorated tumblers.

 .... and we have all drank from these, you have probably got one in the cupboard !!
but do you remember these ??

To best appeciate Hardie Williamson's glass designs, you must visit - 
 They have 100's of designs illustrated.

His design talents weren't limited to glass, he also created designs for the covers and endpaper of Dent Dutton's "the Childrens Illustrated Classic" produced between 1946 and 1974, a series which ran to over 90 titles. Below are 3 examples of covers with his border designs, Pinocchio also had end papers illustrated by him.


.... Woodcuts, oils, glass and commercial illustration !! what next ?? Royal Worcester fine porcelain !! Below is shown one of a series of botanical designs used on plates and marked with a special back stamp comfirming "Designed by A H Williamson". The R with 9 dots suggests a date of production as 1959, a time when he was also disgning for Dent and Ravenhead, a busy man!


A talented artist, who could apply his skills to so many media, but like so many commercial artist, largely foregotten and under-rated by the masses but highly appreciated by the a hardcore of collectors. He was married to the artist Susan Plowright in 1939 and they finally settled in Worthing, Sussex via the Lake District and Henfield. I wasn't able to find any pictures by her to complete the story, I would like to think taht they are still out there.

I hope I have got this correct and haven't attributed the works of another A H Williamson.







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