English ( b.1899 - d.1982 )
|Image size||25.6 inches x 10.2 inches ( 65cm x 26cm )|
|Frame size||30.5 inches x 15.2 inches ( 77.5cm x 38.5cm )|
Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original oil painting by James Fitton, dating from around the early 1960s.
The painting is presented and supplied in its original frame. The painted surface has benefitted from cleaning and conservation, which took place in 2012 on our instructions.
James Fitton was an artist of popular genre who also had a career in theatrical design, advertising and poster design. He was born on 11th February 1899 in Oldham, Lancashire into a working class Methodist family and apprenticed at the age of 14 to a calico designer in Manchester. He attended evening classes at the Manchester School of Art part-time whilst also working on the docks at night and became a close acquaintance of the artist L.S. Lowry.
In 1919 he moved to London and attended evening classes at the Central School of Arts and Crafts from 1925. He and fellow students James Boswell and James Holland were known as the three James or Three Musketeers of the Graphic Left . They used their talents as satirists to oppose fascism, producing cutting edge cartoons, which exposed hypocrisy, profiteering and greed. They did much to revive the tradition of English political satire and strongly influenced the style of humorous illustration which was to become so prevalent during the Second World War. In 1928 Fitton married the artist Margaret Cook, who came from a wealthy Hampstead family, very different to his own, and they settled happily in Dulwich from where he worked as a poster designer and illustrator.
During the 1930s he exhibited at the Royal Academy, the New English Art Club and between 1932 and 1952 with the London Group. He became art director for the advertising agency C Vernon and Sons and had his first one-man exhibition in 1933 at Arthur Tooth and Sons and in 1935 exhibited in the Graphic Art Exhibition in Moscow. He also taught lithography at the Central School.
Fitton’s father had been a trade union leader and was active in the Labour movement and his attitudes continued to influence Fitton. He became a foundling and active member of the Artist’s International Association and drew cartoons for the Daily Worker and the Left Review, becoming known for his witty and adroit caricatures of political leaders such as Mosley, Churchill and Mussolini. For many years Fitton had his finger on the pulse of the nation and played an important role as a political and social critic.
Notable work over the years included posters for London Transport, Illustrations for Lilliput and other magazines, wartime work for the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Education and a number of notable film posters. He served on the art panel of the Arts Council and in 1957 was a member of the Chantry Bequest purchasing committee. He was elected as a member of the Royal Academy in 1954 and became trustee for the British Museum on 1968-1975 and Honorary Surveyor of Dulwich College Picture Gallery 1970-1982.
Fitton was a shrewd observer of London life and its characters. His works reflect his draftsmanship, sense of design and often humour. His art, in all its forms, is very collectable today.
A stylised, almost comic piece, this original painting depicts a nun, dressed all in black religious habit, holding a black umbrella in her left hand. Her other hand grasps the hand of a small girl, dressed in school cap and yellow waterproofs. They hurry along the pavement, past a red streetlight and iron railings, the lush bright green of parkland glowing behind them. The sky is heavy and grey and the pouring rain makes everything look wet.