Nicholson, William (1872-1949), 'Drum-Major (Wimbledon Common)', 1898.

'Drum-Major (Wimbledon Common)', 1898.

Wood Engraving, hand coloured by the artist. One of less than 40 impressions from the deluxe edition of 'London Types'. Signed in ink.

'Who says Drum-Major says a man of mould,

Shaking the meek earth with tremendous tread,

And pacing still, a triumph to behold,

Of his own spine at least two yards ahead!

Attorney, grocer, surgeon, broker, duke-

His calling may be anything, who comes

Into a room, his presence a rebuke

To the dejected, as the pipes and drums

Inspired his port! - who mounts his office stairs

As though he led great armies to the fight!

His bulk itself's pure genius, and he wears

His avoirdupois with so much fire and spright

That, though the creature stands but five feet five,
You take him for the tallest He alive.'

-Verse written by W.E.Henley

Reference: Colin Campbell 53A.

London Types, 1898

At the end of the century there was a ‘vogue for all things to do with London and Londoners’. London was celebrated in numerous histories and collections of verse and prose dedicated to the city as well as pictures in illustrated newspapers of the day. Thus Nicholson’s decision to do a series of cuts of London Types was certainly welcomed.

William Nicholson cut thirteen designs for London Types: a Bus Driver, Guardsman, Hawker, Beef-eater, Sandwich-man, Coster, Lady, Bluecoat Boy, Policeman, Newsboy, Drum-Major, Flower Girl, and Barmaid. The prints were each accompanied by a quartorzain by W.E.Henley, publisher of The New Review.

London Types was published in October 1898 in three English editions. The rare Deluxe Edition contained woodcuts printed from the original woodblocks which were hand-coloured by the artist, trimmed to the border, mounted on card, signed in pen and ink on the card, and issued loose in a portfolio. Around 40 sets were printed.

Schwartz believes that these woodcuts done for London Types ‘represent the culmination of Nicholson’s work as a printmaker’.