One of the last great designers and illustrators of the golden age of British advertising, Anthony Gilbert's works continue to fascinate connoisseurs and collectors alike. Gilbert explored the possibilities of illustration through a variety of innovative techniques, demonstrated in this exhibition of more than 80 works from his studio, most of which have not been shown before.
Anthony Gilbert trained at Goldsmith's College in London, and in 1943, joined the London office of the now legendary firm of J. Walter Thompson, where he would work for the next twenty-five years. He contributed to some of the most high profile advertising campaigns of the post-war era, which included his designs for Rowntree's, Horlick's and Rose's Lime Juice, the most enduring of which was his rococo mantel clock for After Eight mints, which is now, still used by Nestle.
Throughout his years with J. Walter Thompson, Gilbert also painted his own work and took on several independent commissions. In 1948, he designed a poster for London Transport, to promote the capital's museums. and throughout the late 1940s into the 1950s, his lively, almost naive designs graced the covers and pages of several major magazines, including The Strand; Lilliput; Vogue; House and Garden; and Radio Times. He even successfully turned his talents to stained glass with a window design for St. Philip's Church in Hove, executed by Cox & Barnard.
Always a modest and retiring man, after he left the world of advertising in 1969 Gilbert might have become a total recluse were it not for the enormous support of his wife, Ann. Stylish and elegant, Ann was less reticent and retiring than Gilbert, and as a couple, they complimented each other in every respect. Ann became not only Gilbert's lifelong model and muse (indeed, after they met, he rarely drew anyone else), but also his helpmeet. For example, when Gilbert had commissions for fashion illustrations, Anne would travel to London to pick up dresses from Vogue's various fashion editors; return to their home in Kent; model the designs for Gilbert to draw; and then return the clothes to the magazine along with his finished works. Gilbert's work reflects his elegant taste, encyclopedic knowledge of design, and rare ability to balance an almost dizzying variety of pattern with clear, often severe compositions and forms. And it is thanks to the support and devotion of his wife Ann that he was able to produce such a prolific and unique body of work, which remains as chic as it is timeless.
The Studio Estate of Anthony Gilbert is represented by Messum’s and the first exhibition of his work was held at their Cork Street Gallery in 1996.