SCHOOL PRINTS: John Tunnard (1900 – 1971) for School Prints Ltd. “Holiday”, 1947

John Tunnard (1900 – 1971) for School Prints Ltd. “Holiday”, 1947, lithograph on paper, with printed signature to margin, printer credit details “Holiday by John Tunnard S.P.18 Printed in England at The Baynard Press for School Prints Ltd., London”, framed and mounted, print itself 495mm x 759mm

School Prints Ltd

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.

Further editions from the series are available in our store, see:

SCHOOL PRINTS: Clarke Hutton (1898 – 1984) for School Prints “Harlequinade”, 1946

The Artist

British modernist designer and painter John Samuel Tunnard (1900 – 1971) studied design at the Royal College of Art from 1919-1923 and his career began initially in textiles design.

By the late 1920s Tunnard had chosen to concentrate on a career as a painter, whilst supplementing his income teaching part-time at Central School of Arts and Crafts, London.

Tunnard and his wife moved to Cornwall, during the early 1930s and established a silk printing business. By the mid-1930s, influenced by the work of Joan Miro and Paul Klee, Tunnard began creating more abstract paintings.

Tunnard resided in Cornwall for most of his life and had worked as an auxiliary coastguard during the Second World War. The influence of the Cornish coast can be seen in much of his work, including ‘Holiday’.

‘Holiday’ was the only fine art print produced by John Tunnard. Rather than adding the work directly to a lithographic printing plate, he produced a gouache painting then added to stone by the Baynard Press (the original painting was sold at Christies, London in 1985, and more recently by the Portland Gallery). ‘Holiday’ is considered one of the most successful in the School Prints series.

John Tunnard was commissioned to produce a mural for the Festival of Britain in 1951. His work was exhibited widely during his lifetime including at the Royal Academy of Art, the Redfern Gallery and Guggeneheim Jeune. In more recent years Pallant House Gallery, Chichester held a dedicated retrospective to his work in 2010.

An example of this print can be found in; the Victoria & Albert Museum collection, the Tate archive, the Ingram Collection and Warwick University library.

For a more detailed history and examination of the artist see:

Dimensions: 49.5 x 76cm


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Condition Report: Frame and print appear in excellent overall condition.

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