Poster for Children’s Books
T. Fisher Unwin,
Was there ever a less appropriate way to advertise publications meant for young readers? Viewers might have expected images of children listening rapt to a story, or an interpretation of the gamboling sprites from the “Brownies” series by the artist Palmer Cox (1840–1924) that featured in the accompanying list of works for sale by T. (Thomas) Fisher Unwin (1848–1935). What Beardsley offered instead in this poster was a blowsy, double-chinned woman posed against the violent magenta background of a chair—a chair that, at the top, resembled two buttocks—while sprouting from her hair was a feather curled and lumpy like a misshapen embryo. The woman was not, moreover, even engaged in reading the book in her hand, but staring off into space with half-closed eyes, as though about to fall asleep. That Beardsley received one further commission from the same publisher in 1896 seems remarkable.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press