Masquerading School Print

Following my Post on the John Nash ‘Harvesting’ Schools Print I thought I would present another unravelling of prints from my collection of books.


 A detail of Harlequinade by Clarke Hutton, 1946.

Stanley Clarke Hutton was born in Stoke Newington, London, on 14 November 1898, son of Harold Clarke Hutton, a solicitor, and his wife Ethel, née Clark. In 1916 he became assistant stage designer at the Empire Theatre. About a decade later he took a trip to Italy, which inspired him to become a fine artist.

In 1927 he joined A.S. Hartrick’s lithography class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, after Hartrick retired he taught the class himself until 1968. He experimented with the technique of auto-lithography with the aim of developing a way of printing affordable full-colour children’s books, and worked with Noel Carrington at Penguin Books to develop the Picture Puffin imprint. With Penguin he also illustrated Popular English Art by Noel Carrington, for King Penguin Books, in 1945.

He used the auto-lithography techniques he developed for the Oxford University Press’ Picture History series. Other notable publications where for The Folio Society. He illustrated about 50 books in all, for publishers in the UK and USA.

His paintings, figures and landscapes, were widely exhibited. His later work took on a surrealist influence. He died in Westminster in the second quarter of 1984.


 A Picture History of India by John Hampden – Oxford University Press, 1965
Illustrated by Clarke Hutton

It was his illustrations for Noel Streatfeild’s ‘Harlequinade’ that the link to the Schools Print lays. It’s remarkably similar. Most of the figures are all represented, the harlequin, the ballet dancer and the policeman in the corner. Again under the same street light the clown, dog and jester appear.

The book was published in 1943 and the Schools Print was produced in 1946. So rather like the case of the John Nash ‘Harvesting’ the Schools print is made from recycled earlier sketches and ideas, in my opinion, to great effect – these days it would be considered good marketing for the book.


 Noel Streatfield – Harlequinade. Chatto and Windus, 1943.
Illustrated by Clarke Hutton


 Clarke Hutton – Harlequinade – A Schools Print, 1946.

About The Schools Prints:
Set up in 1945 by Brenda Rawnsley, the School Prints scheme commissioned well-known artists to create lithographs, which would then be printed in large numbers and sold cheaply to schools for display in classrooms. The aim was to give ‘school children an understanding of contemporary art’. Each lithograph had a drawn frame so that the print could be pinned to the wall. 

In the spirit of post-war optimism, artists responded enthusiastically. The scheme was a unique attempt at giving children access to original works of art in a period of austerity but ended in 1949 because of financial problems. 

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.


 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.


 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.


 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.


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


 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.