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Great Britain

Rowntree's elect cocoa 1899 Materials & Technique: prints, posters, enamel on metal

Dimensions: comp 53.5 h x 35.8 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1980
Accession No: NGA 80.2328
Cutting-edge technology is not just a characteristic of our age

The Beggarstaff Brothers were in fact the brothers-in-law James Pryde and William Nicholson. They adopted the name Beggarstaffs, having seen it on a sack of corn, to distinguish their commercial work from their work as painters.

The Beggarstaffs greatly admired Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s use of flat areas of colour and his reduced colour palette. The method they used to produce a poster was to first cut out the shapes they wanted from coloured sheets of paper and then assemble these as collages. ‘We decided a silhouette treatment was best, and it had the advantage that it had not been done before. Moreover, it was a very economical may of producing a poster for reproduction.’

While their work today is remembered more for the eloquence of its design than its commercial success, they were hugely influential on two of England’s greatest poster artists, John Hassall and Dudley Hardy.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra