Wood, Lawson (1878-1957) by Scholes, Robert

Lawson Wood (1878 – 1957) The following biographical sketch, comes, with permission from the web page of Tom Cretain devoted to Lawson Wood: Clarence Lawson Wood was born at Highgate, London. His father and grandfather were both artists. He studied at the Slade School, at Heatherley’s and attended classes at the Frank Calderon School of Animal Painting. Aged 18, Wood took a job with magazine publishers C. Arthur Pearson Ltd., eventually becoming their chief artist. In 1902 he went freelance and had work published in Punch, Illustrated London News, The Graphic, Sketch, Nash’s and Fry’s. He also produced theatrical posters and advertising artwork. A friend of Tom Browne, he joined the London Sketch Club and was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours. He married Charlotte Forge in 1903. During the war he joined the Royal Flying Corps and was decorated by the French. After the war he became well-known for his animal pictures (made more accurate by frequent visits to the zoo) and for his animal welfare work. This gained him a Fellowship of the Royal Zoological Society in 1934. He lived in a fifteenth century manor house in Sussex which he then moved, piece by piece, to the Kent-Sussex border. Commercially shrewd, he would retain the copyright of an illustration, which would then be used several times again for different purposes. These included postcards, posters, puzzles, memo pads, ink blotters, books, playing cards, advertising fans, calendars, cigarette cards, magazine covers (especially Colliers), and a myriad of other items. (I have also seen for sale a Lawson Wood monkey character made into a pyjama bag, and at least one ceramic figure of a monkey.) His most popular series of postcards featured the chimpanzee Gran’pop, with a cast of monkeys, pigs, and other animals. Apparently, six cartoons were made, featuring this characters, though I am unsure of any specifics. Lawson Wood signed his work in at least three different ways including L.W. and an elongated L with a dot in front. He hated the name Clarence and abandoned it when young. For Americans, it makes sense to think of Wood as an artistic ancestor of Norman Rockwell.

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