Literature: Mason, Emma, Barnett Freedman, Designs for Modern Britain, Pallant House Gallery, 2020, p. 99
The Curwen Press was founded in 1863 to print music. After Harold Curwen joined in 1908, it began to print high quality limited edition books and did much to advance the use of colour lithography. When Oliver Simon joined he used his contacts with the Royal College of Art to employ figures such as Paul Nash, Edward Bawden, and Barnett Freedman.
Circus is considered to be one of Freedman’s most successful large scale designs. It’s female counterpart is entitled Theatre. Both were produced in a variety of sizes, as hand-bills and posters.
Circuses were a popular form of family entertainment in London, particularly in the 1930s. They were advertised on small panel posters inside Underground trains and occasionally on full size posters such as this. Composed of one design across two different sheets of paper, this is know as a ‘pair poster’, which were displayed in prime sites such as Underground station entrances.