The Other Books of Ambrose Heath

The books of Ambrose Heath illustrated by Eric Ravilious or Edward Bawden are worth a lot of money in mint condition. I was thinking that it was sad that people are only collecting those books, for the illustrations, not the recipes. But also there are so many other wonderful designs of books by Heath worth buying.

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 Ambrose Heath – Good Dishes from Tinned Foods – Faber & Faber, 1939.

I doubt that Heath had much say or interest in who illustrated his books or how, most of it seams to be same in the hands of Faber and Faber.

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 Ambrose Heath

Ambrose Heath was born Francis Geoffrey Miller on the 7th February 1891 in London. He was a journalist and food writer who wrote for newspapers including The Times and The Manchester Guardian, before becoming the food writer for The Morning Post.

In 1933 he published his first book ‘Good Food: Month By Month Recipes’ (illustrated by E. Bawden). It was a success and the year later another three books and reprints came. In the 30′s he wrote over 20 books and many more for publications and companies like Aga stoves. The most expensive of the cook books is undoubtedly ‘The Country Life Cookery Book’ (illustrated by Ravilious in 1937).

Heath wrote and translated more than one hundred works on food. In his lifetime he was best known for a translation of ‘Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book’ that enjoyed many reprintings. He died on the 31st May 1969 in Surrey.

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 Ambrose Heath – Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book – Nicholson & Watson, 1938.

Below are a the beautiful covers of his other books without ER or EB. I think all the samples I have selected where published and thus designed by Faber & Faber.

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Eric Ravilious Obituary

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Today it is hard to ignore the artist effect of Eric Ravilious, the tide of books on him alone prove his popularity. This is an article from ‘The Artist’ magazine, March, 1943. It ends with a short record of his death, some weeks before. I thought it was interesting that its intention was a review of his life and works but became an obituary. 

Eric Ravilious by Richard Seddon
Artists of note: Number 97. The Artist Magazine. March 1943

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 Eric Ravilious – The Causeway, Wiltshire Downs, 1937

Paul Nash was the first to notice the work of Eric Ravilious. This happened when Ravilious was a student of the Royal College of art under the instruction of Nash in the school of design. His wood engraving impressed Paul Nash as being worthy of special attention, and it was on the latter’s introduction that Ravilious became a member of the Society of Wood Engravers. In the society’s exhibitions Ravilious’s engravings immediately drew attention from publishers and their agents. Ravilious illustrated several books and was soon established as a book illustrator of exceptional status.

Between that time and the present he has consolidated a reputation as a leader of contemporary art; not as a leader in figurative or influential, but rather in the most academic sense, of the advancement of research and knowledge. He does not supinely follow the present tendencies and work in a certain manner merely because that manner can be accepted as the logical outcome of the particular form of art and aesthetics accepted at the moment in the country. He does not look for what is being done nowadays, in order to do likewise.

Leadership in art, as in anything else, calls for the usual hackneyed attributes: courage, self-confidence, faith in purpose, and so on. But in art, somehow, as in anything abstract, it needs enthusiasm enough to keep it up in the face of that inexplicable hostility that people show in face of anything that is ‘new.’

In feeling and temperament the work of Ravilious is very English. Ravilious, unlike so many Englishmen, does not try to paint as though he were a Frenchman. His work has its roots deeply sunk into the life and the countryside and the culture of England. His water colours are the lineal descendants of the English eighteenth century school of water colour than in its time gave England a brief reign as a country important in the world’s art, a reign that lasted until the French impressionists wrested the sceptre for France, a reign into which, it is felt, England was re-entering at the beginning of this war, through the excellence of the contemporary school of English landscape, of which Ravilious is one of the most important members.

That, because of his very full knowledge of the history and methods of English art and design, he carries on the English tradition, is apparent in his work in any of the media he employs. His wood engravings revive and extend the essential tradition of Thomas Bewick and the English eighteenth century wood engravers. In his water colours he takes up the story where Peter de Wint, Paul Sandy, John White Abbott and their contemporaries left off, and carries it a stage farther, in the life of modern knowledge. Examples of his pottery design that he carried out for Wedgwood can take their place in the Victoria & Albert Museum, among the original products of Josiah as if by hereditary right. 

It is not possible to select one or two influences that can be credited with the moulding of Ravilious’s vision. After leaving school in Eastbourne, he attended Eastbourne School of Art, from where he went up to the Royal College of Art, in London. There, under principal-ship of Sir William Rothenstein, he was tutored by some of the most important contemporary artists in the country. Naturally, the powerful influences of such men must have affected his outlook; indeed, they did. In addition he received, asI have said, an exhaustively comprehensive education in art and design, from which soure he derived the solution of those problems of expression that he always seems to face with courage and solve with ingenuity. 

He might easily have been tossed for ears upon a sea of conflicting influences; if so, it happened when he was at the R.C.A., and the process was completed by the time he began his career as a practising artist. At least, no indecision has ever shown itself in the work of his maturity. that he owes something, as all artists, to skilful pilotage, can be safely assumed, but that he emerged with an original style is patently a logical result of his own personal outlook. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Design for Coronation mug for Edward VIII, 1936.

He is thirty eight, and therefore can be said to have not yet reached the peak of his artistic maturity. As regards his work, whatever the medium he invariable approaches a subject with an open mind and embodies in the work, whether it is a wood engraving, a water colour, ceramics, or fabric design, at least one idea that arises from the needs of that particular job and no other. Of course he refers in his mind as he is thinking it out not only to history but to past works of his own to help in solving the problem of the moment, but he avoids any tendency to repeat successes of the past ad nauseam, giving the same colours, the same subtleties, the same textures and so on, whether or not they are the right ones for the present job. I stress the fact that he does not walk in such a manner because very many artists, both distinguished and otherwise, do so. 

Ravilious never rests on his laurels. It cannot be said about a sequence of his work as it can of the work of other artists that, having seen one, you have seen them all. Though they are all built around the personality of the artist, each of his productions is sufficient unto itself. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Rendering Mines Safe, 1940. (Now called Dangerous Work at Low Tide)

In a Ravilious exhibition, the paintings are, in the truest sense, variations on a theme and not repetitions. It is said that there are four different ways of looking at a picture, Firstly the observer might stand away and savour the emotional content and the subject matter.Secondly, he might appreciate the purely academic appeal, such as the colour harmony and the broad lines of the composition. Thirdly he might go near the picture and closely examine the technical minutiae: the brushwork, the qualities of the surface, the interplay of ‘fat’ and ‘lean’ painting, and so on. Fourthly, he might scrutinise, analytically, the patterns achieved by the painter, by the use of his range of different ways of coving a surface and of filling in a space. 

The Victorian painters appealed to the first two methods, and many contemporary schools solely to the last two. A few contemporary painters, including Eric Ravilious, appeal to all four. Ravilious particularly appeals to the last. His textures and patterns, whatever the medium, are an important feature of his work. He composes as a rule within a tight linear framework, making spaces of carefully contrasted size and shape which he fills with textures that derive partly from the intrinsic textures of the original of the subject and largely from his own fertile imagination. The settings for his landscape painting have been the Downs and coast of Sussex, and localities in Essex, Wiltshire and Wales. 

Apart from his war painting he confesses to a tendency to paint in sequences: groups of broken-down tractors and old cars and buses in fields, the discarded machinery of Essex. He has painted a series of Sussex hills, a set of chalk figures (such as the Aylesbury White Horse), a set of lighthouses, rowing boats, beds, beaches and greenhouses. Ravilious was educated at Eastbourne Grammar School. He left the Royal College of Art only to return in 1929 as instructor in design, which position he filled until 1938. Whilst a student at the college he and Edward Bawden completed a well known mural decoration in the refreshment room of Morley College, which was destroyed by a bomb.

Other important mural decorations by Ravilious are those in the circular room at the L.M.S. Hotel at Morecambe and the ceiling decorations in the dining hall of the new Merchant Taylors’ School. Since 1926 he has illustrated books for the Kynoch Press, mainly by wood engravings. His engravings have also illustrated Volume I of ‘Signature’ and Gilbert White’s ‘Selborne.’ From 1937 to 1939 he designed pottery for Wedgwood. One of the best known of these designs was the Coronation Mug. His designing for glass he dismisses as a mere gesture; as a gesture it was brief, but effective. 

Exhibitions of the work of Ravilious were held at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1934 and 1937, and one at Tooth’s in 1939. Three of his water colour drawings are in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and there are others in the public galleries. At the beginning of the present war he was offered and he accepted an appointment as official war artist to the Admiralty. He holds with the rank of hon. captain in the Royal Marines.

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 Eric Ravilious – Lewis Gunner

Since this article was written, Eric Ravilious has been posted as ‘missing’. After spending a period in Iceland, in his capacity as official war artist, he life that island by plane and has not been heard of since. Thus ends the career of a very fine artist, whose last efforts were devoted to recording events connected with the war – records which will go down to posterity, and which will keep his memory green, especially in the art world which respected him for his achievements. He was a sane progressive, sound in judgement and method. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Convoy From Merchant Ship At Anchor, 1943

Art of the Ancients

After buying the etching below and looking up the artist and location, it struck me how the uncovering and preservation of British ancient monuments in the twentieth century, together with the age of motoring bought artists to translate these places into art.

Chalk Men:

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 John Grigsby – Cerne Giant

Cerne Abbas is a parish just about eight miles north from Dorchester, in Dorset, England, where, as in the etching above, a human figure has been cut into the chalk hillside. The figure, generally referred to as a giant, is the outline of an ithyphallic man carrying a club in his right hand. At about 55 metres high and 51 metres wide it dominates the valley below. Above the Giant is another landmark, the Iron Age earthwork known as the “Trendle” or “Frying Pan”. The carvings are formed by outlines cut into the turf about 2ft deep, and filled with crushed chalk. The construction of the Wilmington Giant is much the same.

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 Eric Ravilious – Wilmington Giant, 1939.

“The Long Man of Wilmington and the very phallic Cerne Abbas Giant are of unknown age and controversy still rages over the date of the latter in particular”. 

The Ravilious painting is a watercolour using white resist makes the Giant Glow out from the paper’s natural colour, as do his cross-hatched, almost engraver brush-strokes of differing tones of colour.

Stonehenge:

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 Gertrude Hermes – Stonehenge, 1959.

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 Henry Moore – Stonehenge, 1973

Above two sculptors draw and engrave their perception of Stonehenge. Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Unlike the chalk men, there have been writings of Stonehenge from most of recorded time. The earliest record of the chalk giants is from the 17th century.

Moore on Stonehenge: I began the Stonehenge series with etching in mind, but as I looked at, and drew, and thought about Stonehenge, I found that what interested me most was not its history, nor its original purpose – whether chronological or religious – or even its architectural arrangement, but its present-day appearance. I was above all excited by the monumental power and stoniness of the massive man-worked blocks and by the effect of time on them. Some 4000 years of weathering has produced an extraordinary variety of interesting textures.

Avebury:

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 John Piper – Avebury, 1944

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 Paul Nash – Landscape of the Megaliths, 1937

Above are both the avenue and the stone circle of Avebury painted in different styles by both Nash and Piper. John Piper’s image was for a book on Romantic British Poetry and he is making use of limited use of colours in the printing process of the book to make the dark-to-light drama washed with umbers. Nash’s lithograph is one of his less surreal of this working time period, unlike the image below where Nash project’s his own vision for modern monoliths. They maybe hay-bails or car grills but these are, to Nash, the monoliths of today.

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 Paul Nash – Equivalents for the Megaliths, 1935.

With Nash it’s best to use his own words about why he came to paint ‘Equivalents for the Megaliths’

These groups (at Avebury) are impressive as forms opposed to their
surroundings both by virtue of their actual composition of lines and masses and planes, directions and volumes; and in the irrational sense, their suggestion of a super-reality. They are dramatic also, however, as symbols of their antiquity, as hallowed remnants of an almost unknown civilisation. 

In designing the picture, I wished to avoid the very powerful influence of the antiquarian suggestion, and to insist only upon the dramatic qualities of a composition of shapes equivalent to the prone or upright stones simply as upright or prone, or leaning masses, grouped together in a scene of open fields and hills. –  Paul Nash – Letter to Lance Sieveking. May 1937. 

The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art. p116 9780521454735
Paul Nash Places. 9781853320460
Henry Moore. Writings and Conversations. p299 978-0520231610

Harvesting with John Nash

Some years ago I bought a print called ‘Harvesting’ by John Nash. Years later I would buy a book illustrated by John Nash and start to see the links.

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 John Nash, The Cornfield, 1918

John Nash was born in London in 1893 and is the younger brother of Paul Nash. He was a very accomplished wood engraver and lithographer and served as an official war artist in both the World Wars. On one occasion in 1917, Nash was one of eighty men ordered to cross No-Mans-Land at Marcoing near Cambrai. Of these, only Nash and eleven men returned.

From 1924 to 1929 he taught at Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, and from 1934 to 1940 taught at the Design school at the Royal College of Art. In 1951 he was elected to the Royal Academy. After the Second World War he moved to Wormingford on the Suffolk and Essex border.

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 Adrian Bell – Men and the Fields, 1939.

It was in a local bookshop that I found a copy of a John Nash illustrated book called ‘Men and the Fields’ by Adrian Bell. It seemed to me that the lithographic cover of the book looked like his painting ‘The Cornfields’, so simple in yellow patterns. It also has a set of coloured lithographs inside too that people have been cutting out and framing.

Inside the book there are a lot of line drawings and it’s one of them that is the curiosity. Below is the Schools Print by Nash called ‘Harvesting’. It shows a typically Suffolk scene but with an unusual amount of people in the picture compared to other paintings (normally his pictures are landscape only).

As in ‘The Cornfield’ there are the hay-bails and a beautiful landscape but here the surplus farmhands are poaching for rabbits with the dogs and a couple sit romantically waiting for the threshing machine to finish, so they can bail the corn up onto a cart.

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 John Nash – Harvesting, 1948

Being a large lithograph it has a beautiful texture to the printing and only a limited number of colours could be used to print it, so it becomes rather harmonic; the men’s trousers and the skyline.

But below are some of the drawings from the 1939 ‘Men and the Fields’ nine years earlier. You likely notice they are almost the studies for the schools print, the men with the dogs, the rabbit. It’s an extrapolated version that makes up the Schools print but the elements are all to be found.

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 John Nash’s illustration for Adrian Bell’s ‘Men and the Fields’, 1939.

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 Detail of above

The link is undeniable. But to go full circle, the reissue of ‘Men and the Fields’ in paperback by Little Toller books, has ‘The Cornfields’ as the cover! Ronald Blythe also inherited John Nash’s home, Bottengoms Farm in Wormingford.

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Poetry. London.

Poetry London: A Bi-Monthly of Modern Verse and Criticism. This publication was founded by Tambimuttu and the first issue was dated January/February 1939. The associated publishing imprint, Editions Poetry London, formed in 1943, produced some 70 books and pamphlets, including by Keith Douglas, G. S. Fraser, Henry Miller, Vladimir Nabokov and Kathleen Raine, before being discontinued in 1951.

This is one of those publications. I have a few in my collection but this is an excellent example as the cover is a lithograph by Henry Moore and inside there a further four lithographs by Ceri Richards, not to mention the authors inside.

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Ceri Richards trained at the Royal College of Art from 1924. In 1929 he married Frances Clayton, a fellow artist. 

His work gradually moved towards surrealism after exposure to the work of Picasso and Kandinsky. He was also a talented musician, and music is a theme for much of his artwork. From 1959 onwards, he made prints for theCurwen Press. One of the high points of his career was the Venice Biennale of 1962, where he was a prizewinner.

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Richards on Dylan Thomas’s poems.

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A Bike Ride

A bike ride around Cambridgeshire. St Ives, Hinxton and Madingley.

A walk in the woods

Here are some pictures from a muddy walk into the local woods. I was lucky enough to see the bluebells in the wood in full bloom.

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War Art – The Horror

I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from men who are fighting to those who want the war to go forever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls.’ – Paul Nash

This is a post about four artists and their reactions to war through their art.

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 Paul Nash – Mine Crater. Hill 60. December 1917- Stone Lithograph.

The Art of Paul Nash for the war was a remarkable thing. Graphic in detail of metaphor and gloom they showed the public, at home in Britain, the front line. Nash was supported by a host of art critics and writers that wrote to the nervous Admiralty reaffirming that these works must be seen by the public and not censored and locked away. The Sunday Times critic Frank Rutter wrote in August 1917: 

I have seen and studied carefully a number of Mr Paul Nash’s drawings and watercolours made in the Ypres salient and consider them to be among the best and most moving works of art dealing with the present war. Facilities enabling Mr Nash to produce further drawings and pictures of the Front could in my judgement only result in enriching contemporary British art.

In the next year the War Office would control and present what the public saw of this art with the 1918 series of four magazines called ‘British Artists at the Front’. Volume one: CRW Nevinson, Volume two: Sir John Lavery, Volume three: Paul Nash and Volume four: Eric Kennington. 

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 Paul Nash – Wire – Watercolour.

Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828) was a Spanish painter and printmaker. His early artistic works were oil paintings of romance and the Spanish court under Charles III. He’s also credited for painting one of the first totally nude, life-sized paintings in western art without mythological subtext. 

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 Francisco Goya – The Third of May, 1808. 

Towards the end of Goya’s life he produced a remarkable series of 80 etchings called ‘The Disasters of War’. The etchings and aquatints depict a set of scenes from the Spanish struggle against the French army under Napolean Bonaparte, who invaded Spain in 1808. When Napolean tried to install his brother Joseph Bonaparte, as King of Spain, the Spanish fought back, eventually aided by the British and the Portugese. 

Above is the painting ‘The Third of May’, painted in 1814. Goya sought to commemorate Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies during the occupation. During this time Goya was still a court painter, now under the French and may have been seen as a collaborator by some. Painted while the print series was in progress it marked a change in style, with a darker and more sinister attack on the French and a show of patriotism for the sacrificed Spanish.

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 Francisco Goya – Esto es peor (This is worse)

The prints show the French as a merciless army and the people in the crossfire, confused or abused victims. Some of the prints are supernatural. They are mostly divided into three styled themes:

war, famine, and political and cultural allegories. Goya travelled the battle fields and towns in the conflict to sketch out plans for the works. Above in ‘Esto es peor’, the image shows the aftermath of a battle with the mutilated torsos and limbs of civilian victims, mounted on trees, like fragments of marble sculpture.

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 Francisco Goya – Por una navaja (For a clasp knife). 

Above from ‘Por una navaja’, a garrotted priest grasps a crucifix in his hands. Pinned to his chest is a description of the crime for which he was killed – possession of a knife, that hangs from a cord around his neck. His body tied to an execution post while the bystanders look away in horror. This again is an image of horror after the event, with the consequences being witnessed by the civilians.

As graphic as the images were and even with ten years spent on their execution, it wasn’t until after Goya’s death that the prints where published. While it is unclear how much of the conflict Goya witnessed, it is generally accepted that he observed first-hand many of the events recorded.

The distance from the publication of Goya’s prints from the events helped them not be censored and with the war won, they reaffirmed Spain’s national pride.

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 USA propaganda to build popular support for American intervention in the European war, WW1. Note the Germanic tattoo on the hand.

Censorship of art is always something of contemporary issue. A few years before Nash’s works of the battle fields in the early months of World War One was the ‘The Rape of Belgium’. 

Belgium at the start of the war was in a state of neutrality from the 1839 ‘Treaty of London’. Under the treaty, the European powers recognised and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium. Article VII required Belgium to remain perpetually neutral, and by implication committed the signatory powers to guard that neutrality in the event of invasion. 

The German army desired to invade Belgium to face the French forces and in doing so the German army engaged in numerous atrocities against the civilian population of Belgium, defying the Treaty. 

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 A destroyed Leuven. The Germans burned the city from August 25 to 2 September 1914. 

The outcome was the ransacking and burning of civilian, church and government property; 6,000 Belgians were killed, 25,000 homes and other buildings in 837 communities destroyed in 1914 alone. One and a half million Belgians (20% of the entire population) fled from the invading German army. The Germans killed 27,300 Belgian civilians directly, and an additional 62,000 via the deprivation of food and shelter. 

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 Pierre-Georges Jeanniot – IV – The Massacre at Surice

In reaction to the 1914 carnage and maybe after Goya, Pierre-Georges Jeanniot produced a series of ten etchings in 1915 called ‘The Horrors of War’.

Jeannoit’s first exhibited the works in Paris for less than a day before the French police banned it on fear it would cause panic amongst the Parisian population. The etching plates where locked in a box and lost, only to be rediscovered nearly 100 years later. 

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 Pierre-Georges Jeanniot – X – In The Church 

These etchings, show a detailed situation of an atrocity, where as Goya’s works are almost surreal illustrations of war-craft. They were found and restored by Mark Hill who has had a limited edition printed of them. This posthumous edition was officially published on 4th August 2014, the centenary of the invasion of Belgium and the start of World War One.

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 Percy Smith – Death Waits

The last printmaker I want to look at is Percy Delf Smith. Smith made two series of war prints. ‘Drypoints of the War’ and ‘Dance of Death’ – both series of prints documenting life on the Western Front of the First World War. 

In 1916 he joined the Royal Marine Artillery and arrived at the Somme in October. He served as a gunner until 1919 in France and Belgium. Rather like Jeanniot, Smith witnessed the Germans destruction of Belgium. 

At the start of 1917 Percy Smith was located in Thiepval, Belgium where Lutyens’ Memorial to the Missing of the Somme now stands. When the Germans entered Thiepval on 26 September 1914, the village and its château were utterly destroyed. Smith’s diary entries describe the desolate landscape: 

Thurs. 4th (January 1917) ‘Trenching’ as usual. No shelling. Went over Thiepval hill. Thiepval simply a heap of rubbish decorated by gaunt tree trunks. Must sketch it. Finished reading Doyle’s ‘The White Company’– war as it was and read about while the guns cracked’.

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 Percy Smith – Thiepval Chateau, 1917 – from Sixteen Drypoints of War

Smith was covert about his drawings of time at the front line and was arrested twice of being a spy. He smuggled etching plates in books and magazines both too the front line and home. He printed ‘Drypoints of the War’ while on leave in 1917. 

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 Percy Smith – Thiepval, from Sixteen Drypoints of War, 1917

The ‘Drypoints of War’ are very matter of fact, they are images of the landscape and its desolation that was all around, similar in subject matter to the works of Paul Nash. Destruction with abstraction.

The second series of prints ‘Dance of Death’ was less of a witnessing of war and more of an attack of it. With death always watching, waiting or lingering with the solders, they were produced after the war in 1919.

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 Percy Smith – The Dance of Death No. 1: Death forbids

In ‘Death forbids’, a hand of the solder that is pinned down by a fallen tree and in the barbed wire reaches up, trying to get the attention of the medics and stretcher bearers to the top left of the picture. I am sure the skeletal death is meant to look harrowing and like he is suppressing the man, but to me it looks affectionate and like death is helping the man surrender to the fate. 

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 Percy Smith – The Dance of Death No. 3: Death awed.

In ‘Death awed’ we are presented with a death, shocked and impressed by the might of war, the carnage and ballistics of force that don’t even leave a body but two boots with broken bones in the wet earth.

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 Paul Nash – Ypres Salient At Night, 1918.

Osram Lamps

As a collector of books and art I pick up a lot of period magazines. These have many adverts inside as well as articles illustrated by young artists. You also become exposed to repeat advertising as the magazines get older in weeks and months, and you notice the development of advertising campaigns. 

Below is a selection of adverts for Osram lamps. Most had a quirky rhyme about ‘the housewife’ picking up the shopping. 

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Here is a very sweet image with the rhyme ‘butter and cheese, some meat, two stamps – and I haven’t forgotten my Osram lamps!’ The illustration is fantastic, so bright and happy and normally in magazines where colour printing is rare – even for fashion supplements they talk about the colour of clothing in black and white images.

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There is then a change in the adverts style from how the Osram bulbs effect the home. ‘Indoor games are more exciting When they’re played by Osram lighting!’. It was a time when people where converting their home to electric light and so Osram wanted these people to be faithful to their brand.

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Naturally if you were wealthy enough to have a cook, the advert below would be perfect. Before the war and electric light you would have worked and lived mostly to daylight.

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Instagram

Here are some other images from instagram.