Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nicolas Bentley illustrations web round-up

Nicolas Bentley (1907 - 1978) was a British cartoonist, illustrator and author who worked primarily from the 1930's through to the '60's.

His earliest commercial art was produced while working for Shell Oil in the late 1920's.

Disliking the world of advertising, he moved into book illustration, establishing himself early on by providing artwork for (family friend)
Hilaire Belloc's 'New Cautionary Tales', published in 1930.

Bentley's notable illustration credits also include the 1940 edition of T. S. Eliot's 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats'.

Bentley was also much loved in Britain for cartoons that appeared there in magazines and newspapers, but his work is largely unknown here in the U.S.

I love Bentley's style!

I hadn't heard of Nicolas Bentley until recently, when it was suggested that he might have been the uncredited illustrator for some images I'd posted from an old Berlitz language instruction textbook.

I can certainly see the resemblance, though I remain unconvinced.

I can also see the similarity in styles cited when his work has also been compared to Al Hirschfeld and to Gluyas Williams, but I think Bentley has some strongly unique qualities, too.

I wish there were more examples of Bentley's work available online. Hopefully we'll be seeing more in the future.

- For what can be seen, a great place to start are the Illustrations from the 1948 book,
'How to Scrape Skies'
, posted at

- Following that there is a wonderful 'small collection of his work' to be found at the extensive
Alphabet of Illustrators. Included there are some beautiful examples of Bentley's color work and endpapers.

Also worth mentioning are:
- A few drawings from an exhibition at Chris Beetles Gallery

- An assortment of Nicolas Bentley book jacket illustrations on view at flickr.

There are a few other random individual illustrations that can be found around the web, but those seem to be the more significant ones.

If you spot any others, be sure to let us all know!

See also:
- A previous post about British commercial illustrator / surrealist painter
Victor Reinganum, a compatriot of Bentley's.
Together they formed the Pandemonium Group in 1926; a loosely knit group of "bright young things" that held regular exhibitions at the
Beaux Arts Gallery.

ADDENDUM, 11.23.08: I've just posted scans of Bentley illustrations from an old copy of
Lawrence Durrell's book, 'Stiff Upper Lip'
that I found recently.
(follow link)

- Here's one more Bentley illustration for the stack here, from a 1940 issue of Britain's Lilliput magazine, found at Yesterday's Papers.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I'm screaming in pain! When hubby and I moved into our new home last December, we first had to clean out the house and it had books and magazines going back 30 years. I'm 99.9% positive that there were a few books with this style of illustration in them. I'll have to see if by chance I kept one or two.

If I did, I'll scan and send....

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