Editorial Art, Advertisements, Posters, Record sleeves etc.
A small selection
Two pen and ink drawings done for the Radio Times in the late fifties are followed here by a painting of runners in gouache and ink, one of the samples I used to carry in my portfolio to demonstrate range and attract commissions. The illustrations in duotone (black and one other colour) of a woman being assaulted and a kidnapper enticing a child with a doll, were for Today magazine. The 1962 cover portrait of John Glenn, the first American astronaut, was commissioned by Topic, a short lived British newsweekly, modelled on Time magazine. (The Bertrand Russell portrait was also intended for Topic but never used).
The advertisement for Underberg, (a herbal drink to aid digestion) was one of a series commissioned by a German advertising agency in the sixties. I also worked on advertising campaigns for Dutch Beer, Nestlé’s milk and in the seventies, Teachers Whisky.
For two contrasting stories in Woman’s Journal, I employed an unusual technique involving gouache and magic markers. ‘Perfect Strangers’ was a contemporary romance, ‘The Lonely Empress’ a historical biography of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. (The ballroom scene in the latter referenced Visconti's magnificent 1963 film, The Leopard). The ‘boy with a rabbit’ was commissioned by another woman’s magazine. It was in monochrome - still very much the norm in the sixties.
Over the years I did a lot of work for Reader’s Digest, work such as the portrait of Ben Gurion in 1967, the view of a Welsh mining town in 1969 and the portrait of Tommy Handley, star of radio comedy, in 1974. I also designed several covers for Read - the Digest’s colourful Nigerian edition. (The first one here is from my original artwork, the other two, from magazine proofs).
Being a music lover, I enjoyed designing record sleeves. The four shown here were commissioned by The World Record Club.
In 1962 The Sunday Times launched the world’s first Colour Section under the brilliant art direction of Michael Rand. Packed with newly commissioned art and cutting edge photo journalism, every issue was an event. The Colour Section soon morphed into The Sunday Times Magazine for which in 1967, I did a cover portrait of Jackie Kennedy. This related to an authoritative piece by Dr Alex Comfort about the science of ageing. My job was to add visual appeal to the text by predicting how a number of public figures might look in about 30 years time. The Jackie Kennedy cover portrait appears here as the magazine printed it, the others were taken from my watercolour originals. I received the Winsor & Newton Silver Award for The Best Editorial Art of ‘68 from D&AD (Design & Art Directors Association) for my work on this project (the brainchild of Mark Boxer). In due course I was asked to age more celebrities, this time by the German newsweekly Stern which, besides using a selection of my original Sunday Times portraits, commissioned several more including Queen Soraya, the second wife of the last Shah of Persia and Britain’s ‘Fab Four’ - The Beatles.
In March 1968 the magazine ran a feature The Beautiful People by Brigid Brophy. It recounted how in 62 BC, Clodius and Clodia Pulcher, two nobly born siblings, scandalised Rome with their decadent behaviour. In the first of my illustrations Clodius disguises himself as a female musician in order to gain access to Caesar’s wife. In the second, Clodia demands payment in the form of a token from one of her many lovers.
For a cover of the magazine in May 1968, I created an imaginary portrait of King Cogidubnus. As Roman Legate in Britain in about 80 AD, Cogidubnus lived in a magnificent palace at Fishbourne in Sussex. While supervising excavations on the site, the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe uncovered what turned out to be the largest Roman building in Britain and in the process, revealed much of the life that was lived there. My illustration depicts a visiting merchant approaching the palace accompanied by two servants carrying a trunk full of samples to show the king.
- September 1968, the paper published The Sunday Times Guide to Shakespeare Characters, a collection of small posters each depicting a character from one of the plays together with a selection of critical comment. The work of several artists, the project set out to be educational as well as decorative. I provided artwork for ten of the posters, seven of which appear here.
For an issue of the magazine in October 1968 I was called upon to reimagine Cleopatra Queen of Egypt in the light of the latest research at the time. Unlike Elizabeth Taylor in the Hollywood epic film of 1963, Cleopatra, my Egyptian Queen was olive skinned, of Macedonian-Greek descent and clad in Tyrian purple, a colour that in the ancient world denoted royalty and wealth.
In March 1970 the magazine ran a feature entitled The Needle in Sport. My cover depicted Charlie Griffiths, the legendary West Indian bowler and my illustration inside, dramatised the famous rivalry between Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil, two cyclists in the Tour de France.
While working for The Sunday Times I also undertook a number of portraits: Mumtaz Mahal the Mughal Empress (for Cosmopolitan), Nostradamus the sixteenth century astrologer (for Nova), Willi Brandt the German Chancellor (for a political poster) and Tony Bennett the singer (for the Radio Times).
In April 1973 The Sunday Times Magazine ran a three part series edited by Barry Cunliffe entitled Discovering Ancient Britain. I was asked to picture an Iron Age farmer and his family in about 100 AD. In the interests of immediacy, I imagined them posing for a group-shot taken by a passing time-traveller. Subsequent issues required me to visualise a Roman British family then a Saxon one.
In August 1975 my cover portrait of Andrew Cavendish Duke of Devonshire heralded a piece in the magazine about the gentry's attitude to the imposition of a wealth tax. The dukedom was created in the reign of William and Mary so to avoid colliding with any of the duke’s actual ancestors, I portrayed him as a fictional forebear from the reign of Henry VIII.
In December 1975, my cover portrait depicted Idi Amin Dada, the Ugandan dictator, resplendent in garter robes with a chest full of dodgy medals. A satirical feature in the magazine linked topical news stories of the day with well known paintings, (in Idi Amin’s case, Pietro Annigoni’s 1950’s portrait of H. M. The Queen). For a cover in November 1977 I pictured Mick Jagger as Casanova, the 18th Century libertine. The accompanying feature inside identified some of Casanova’s contemporary equivalents and asked: ‘will today’s sex symbols stand the test of time?’
Ahead of Britain’s general election in 1979, America’s Time magazine commissioned a cover portrait of Margaret Thatcher and I opted to set her against a Union Jack soaked in Tory blue. In April 1980 The Sunday Times Magazine commissioned a cover to mark Thatcher’s first year in office. Inspired by the 1854 painting of Joan of Arc by J.A.D. Ingres, I presented her in armour with her cabinet ministers fluttering around her head as cherubim (her ‘voices’ perhaps?) In the late eighties I began work on another image of Thatcher, this time as a head of the gorgon Medusa by the sculptor Bernini complete with a petrifying gaze and a head full of writhing serpents. However when I learned there were no plans to accompany the image with a related piece in the magazine, I stopped work on it. Although only half finished, it clearly had promise, so I include it here since.
My last ever Sunday Times Magazine cover in 1983 imagined John Paul Getty I as an exhibit in his own museum in California. I presented him as an ancient, damaged artefact - a symbol of the Getty family's doom laden history.
In celebration of the magazine’s jubilee month in 1991, Michael Rand reprised a selection of my 1967 ‘ageing heads’ together with the byline, Leonard’s Time Machine. Although, by then, I had ceased to be a commercial illustrator I was glad to see my portraits getting another airing.
When not busy for The Sunday Times Magazine I worked on projects for a wide variety of other publications, generally involving some kind of portraiture. My subjects included Mumtaz Mahal the Mughal Empress (for Cosmopolitan), Nostradamus the 16th Century prophet and astrologer (for Nova magazine), Willi Brandt the German Chancellor (for a political campaign) and Tony Bennett the singer (for The Radio Times).
The most memorable commission of all came from Esquire Magazine in 1969 and involved the creation of a recruiting poster for Hitler’s Third Reich. Borrowing the style of a Nazi propaganda artist, I used a ‘pointing finger’ image that pastiched both a First World War call to arms by Lord Kitchener and an ‘Uncle Sam’ recruiting poster. With the magic of trompe-l’oeil, I made the poster look as though it had been lost to the world and folded up in a drawer for several decades.
For my 1972 ‘Presentation Portrait’ of Godfrey Smith, the departing editor of the The Sunday Times Magazine, I used trompe l’oeil again, depicting him as a piece of ‘cover art’ on the magazine itself, pinned to the wall behind a celebratory glass of ‘bubbly’ and a fat cigar.