Nicholson, William (1872-1949), 'Beef-eater (The Tower)', 1898.

'Beef-eater (The Tower)', 1898.

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

'His beat lies knee-high through a dust of story-

A dust of terror and torture, grief and crime;

Ghosts that are ENGLAND's wonder, and shame, and glory,
Throng where he walks, an antic of old time;
A sense of long immedicable tears

Were ever with him, could his ears but heed;

The stern Hic Jacets of our bloodiest years

Are for his reading, had he eyes to read,

But here, where CROOKBANK raged, and CRANMER trimmed,
And MORE and STRAFFORD faced the axe's proving,
He shows that Crown the desperate Colonel nimmed, 

Or simply keeps the Country Cousin moving,
And stays such Cockney pencillers as would shame

The wall where some dead Queen hath traced her name.'

-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’.