Nicholson, William (1872-1949),'Guardsman (The Horse Guards)', 1898.

'Guardsman (The Horse Guards)', 1898.

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

'Joy of the Milliner, Envy of the Line,

Star of the Parks, jack-booted, sworded, helmed,

He sits between his holsters, solid of spine;

Nor, as it seems, though WESTMINSTER were whelmed, 

With the great globe, in earthquake and eclipse,

Would he and his charger cease from mounting guard,

This Private in the Blues, nor would his lips

Move, though his gorge with throttling oaths were charred!

He wears his inches weightily, as he wears

His old-world armours; and with his port and pride,

His sturdy graces and enormous airs,

He towers, in speech his Colonel countrified.

A triumph, waxing statelier year by year,

Of British blood, and bone, and beef, and beer.'

-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’.