Tuesday, 5 June 2012

New Frank Bellamy art found...I think!

We have discovered a new source of Bellamy's artwork but also got into a mystery! In the comic Rocket #6 (26 May 1956), there is an advert for "The Pictorial Encyclopedia" and "The Pictorial History Book" - a matching pair of titles. 

They appear to be the sort of title that your mother and father would approve of you purchasing with your pocket money. Until a conversation with David Driver (whose name should always be mentioned when talking about Frank Bellamy's work in the Radio Times in the 1970s)  I had no idea of the existence of these books. The British Library has no date for them but does acknowledge receipt of them in 1952 and 1954 respectively. These are the nearest we get to the actual dates. At the time Bellamy was attached to the Norfolk Studios in London producing advertising and soon he would join Mickey Mouse Weekly so this is pretty early work

David very kindly let me borrow his copy of "The Pictorial History Book" and with shaking fingers I turned each page. The contents page lists the artists (an unusual thing for these sort of reference works in my opinion!) and there is Frank Bellamy!  I quickly bought a copy of the book knowing I would want to scan whatever I found and share it - so don't worry David your copy is safe! David said to me he'd had the book for some time and that he couldn't work out which picture was Bellamy's. Now, I like a challenge like that so I have presented several scans below for you to make up your mind.

The Pictorial History Book (Editorial board: R Haddon, Charles Harvey, Lionel M Munby, E S Wolff) London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., [1954] 

Title page, list of illustrators and Contents with Doughty's portraits

It immediately looks as if artists were not given one article to illustrate as there are mixtures of styles in the book and even within articles. So how can we find Bellamy? Some the colour and black & white pictures have identifying marks / signatures - such as C. L. Doughty, who appears throughout (and in the matching book). Often when browsing a bunch of book illustrations or magazines one sees a pattern and begins to 'see' an artist's style so maybe a process of elimination might work.

For all the scans of the major artists including the possible Bellamys please follow the link to my website

Page 29 This boat looks very Bellamy to me

Page 30 This ploughman looks odd but the background and ox look Bellamy-like to me - and compares in technique to his Captain Cook

Page 51 Bellamy was shortly going to be drawing in Mickey Mouse Weekly (Monty Carstairs strip) but would do King Arthur and his knights later. Is this him? The twisted figure bottom right again looks like Doughty to me

Page 178 and Page 179 are nice colour works with no signatures but Bellamy drew World War One later for Look and Learn and also drew lots of explosions in his time
So where does this get us? Do we know which picture(s) Bellamy drew for this work? I think your guess is as good as mine. Paul Holder feels that Page 29 "The coming of the Danes" is the piece. I liked the boat so that ties in. David Driver couldn't guess and he worked with Bellamy in the 1970s so do I know the answer? - No! Get in contact if you have a copy of this book and can add anything and have a look at copies at Abebooks if you want to join in.

UPDATE: Peter Richardson and David Jackson have voted for pages 178 and 179 and I personally favour those too


Evelyn Holmy said...

hello norman,

Im very interested in your book:
The Pictorial History Book (Editorial board: R Haddon, Charles Harvey, Lionel M Munby, E S Wolff) London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., [1954]

Im from germany, nowhere I can get this very nice and informative book. you said, that you would post more pages. I would be very glad. Im interested in medieval.

best regards from the green heart of germamy - thuringia. the land of castles :)

Norman Boyd said...

Have a look at Abebooks Evelyn. For more pictures: http://www.frankbellamy.co.uk/notes/pictorial.htm