Vogue Illustrator to Be Celebrated With A Dedicated Show
Cork Street art dealers, Messum’s, will be exhibiting and selling original designs from Gilbert’s estate will also focus on how the dedication of his wife, Ann, his lifelong model and muse, kept his career on track when he became a recluse in 1969.
Gilbert was one of the last great designers and illustrators in the golden age of British advertising. He 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 25 years.
Gilbert was not just an illustrator for the likes of Vogue, House & Garden, The Strand, Lilliput and Radio Times from the 1940s to ‘70s, he was also the creator of iconic 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, inspired by his own mantel clock and still used by Nestlé today.
Alongside his commercial pieces Gilbert also painted his own work and took on several independent commissions. 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, whom he had met as his student at Bromley School of art. Stylish and elegant, Ann was less reticent than Gilbert, and as a couple, they complemented each other in every respect.
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. He is seen as part of the long tradition of great English illustrators, such as Aubrey Beardsley and Eric Gill.
The painter and designer Willie Landels, later to become the first editor of Harpers & Queen, first got to know Gilbert when he worked on the Festival of Britain murals. Later he recalled how, although they worked together for many years, “Anthony was not easy to know – always immaculately dressed, the epitome of and English gentleman, he was also shy and reserved and not easily taken in conversation… but his work held so much appeal”.
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.
The show runs from September 14-25 September. www.messums.com