SCHOOL PRINTS: Feliks Topolski (1907 – 1989) for School Prints Ltd. “This England”, 1947,
SCHOOL PRINTS – Feliks Topolski (1907 – 1989) for School Prints Ltd. “This England”, 1947. The print is a lithograph on paper, with printed signature to lower right image and detailed to lower margin “‘This England’ by Feliks Topolski. S.P.19, Printed in England at The Baynard Press for School Prints Ltd, London”. The work is housed within a lilac painted wooden frame.
Dimensions of the print itself are 495mm x 759mm
Condition report: Print overall in good condition, appears faded to a slightly more lilac coloured hue than originally would have been when printed, some surface dirt between glazing and print.
The School Prints series was produced from 1946 to 1949, and was devised by arts campaigner Brenda Rawnsley (1917 – 2007).
School Prints Ltd. was founded by Brenda Rawnsley’s husband Derek Rawnsley in 1935, to allow primary schools to hire prints of old master paintings. Derek Rawnsley tragically died in an aeroplane accident in 1943. By the end of the Second World War, Brenda Rawnsley, (having herself served as an Intelligence Officer and subsequently Squadron Leader during World War II) decided to continue with the concept of School Prints, but take it in a new direction.
The new aim would to provide primary schools with original lithographic examples of contemporary art. Rather than hiring prints, the School Prints series were to be affordable enough for schools to purchase. Instead of copying existing works, artists would be commissioned to produce unique designs on subjects understandable to children. Design was also integral; each print featuring a frame motif around the outside so that they could simply be attached to classroom walls. Additionally, all were produced in identical sizes, so they could be interchanged in a single frame.
Rawnsley said of the series (when first writing to the chosen artists): “We are producing a series of auto-lithographs, four for each term, for use in schools, as a means of giving schoolchildren an understanding of contemporary art. By keeping the price as low as possible, we are able to bring this scheme within the reach of all education authorities. “
Initially the series was a success; post-war optimism combined with the appeal of promoting children’s education resulted in artists willing to contribute their work. Knowing only a little about art Rawnsley selected the artists together with a group chaired by art historian Herbert Read. L.S. Lowry, John Nash and Henry Moore, to name but a few, all contributed works to the series.
By 1948 Rawnsley had managed to sign up a number of European artists including Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy and Henri Matisse. The European series however proved too adventurous for the audience and subsequently production ceased in 1949.
Feliks Topolski (1907-1989) was a Polish born artist who spent the majority of his career in Britain. Topolski’s art and illustrations are frequently in an expressionistic and graphic style. Many of his most famous works featured portraits of important figures or historic events.
Topolski trained as an artist at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He first moved to London in 1935 following a visit to cover King George V silver jubilee celebrations.
Feliks Topolski mixed in intellectual circles in London and produced a number of portraits of some of the most important figures of the day including; Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene.
During the Second World War, Topolski worked as an official war artist for both Britain and Poland. He travelled extensively capturing the conflict numerous countries in Europe, Asia and North Africa. Additionally, he also produced many drawings of the London Blitz when he was himself injured.
Post War Feliks Topolski travelled to India and the United States. Upon his return to Britain he won a number of important commissions including for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and was employed by Prince Phillip to design a corridor in Buckingham Palace.
The latter part of his career brought more travel where he documented important global political events in particular.
Feliks Topolski’s work can be found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Tate Gallery, The Imperial War Museum, The National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum.
‘This England’ was produced in 1947, the year in which Topolski became a British citizen. The print features a central image of the then Prime Minister Clement Attlee alongside Sir Winston Churchill, surrounded by a bishop, policeman and various other British figures.
To read more about the artist and view further works see: https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp07899/feliks-topolski?role=art
For further prints from the School Prints series included in our store see
Dimensions: The print itself are 495mm x 759mm
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Condition Report: Print overall in good condition, appears faded to a slightly more lilac coloured hue than originally would have been when printed, some surface dirt between glazing and print. Displays well.