John Hassall (1868 - 1948)

Portrait of Bert Thomas


SKU: 7661
Signed and inscribed, Bert, yours J. ‘Present from Walton on the Haze’ 
Pen and ink on board

Height – 42.6cm
Width – 21.5cm

1 in stock


The Artist’s Estate; Private collection

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.214.

Having studied in Antwerp and Paris, during which time he was influenced by the famous poster artist Alphonse Mucha, John Hassall became one of Britain’s most success graphic artists of his generation. His work was characterised by the use of flat colours enclosed by thick black lines,  a style widely recognised when, from 1895 he began work as an advertising artist for David Allen & Sons, a career which lasted fifty years,  and included iconic  posters such as  “Skegness Is so Bracing” (1908). Between 1896 and 1899, he produced over 600 theatre poster designs for the firm.

In 1900, Hassall opened his own New Art School and School of Poster Design in Kensington.  The Hassall brand was thus pass onto a new generation: Annie Fish, Bert Thomas, Bruce Bairnsfather, H. M. Bateman and Harry Rountree were among his students.  He also belonged to several clubs, including the Langham (until 1898), the Savage, and the London Sketch Club, of which he was a President from 1903- 1904. Dudley Hardy and with Cecil Aldin, were life long friends He was, not surprisingly, the  subject of numerous  portraits by his students and admirers .

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John Hassall
1868 - 1948

Cartoonist, illustrator, designer, painter and teacher, born in Walmer, Kent. He was the father of the artist Joan Hassall and the writer Christopher Hassall. After education in England and Germany, and twice failing to gain a commission at Sandhurst, he emigrated to Manitoba, Canada, where he farmed. In the early 1890s, after some success contributing sketches to The Graphic, he moved back to Europe, studying art in Antwerp, then enrolling at the Academie Julian in Paris. Returning to England in the mid 1890s Hassall became a popular cartoonist and one of the most celebrated poster designers of his generation (his designs Included the well-known advertisement “Skegness Is so bracing.”). Hassall illustrated numerous books (especially for Blackie and Co.) and periodicals such as The Idler, London Opinion, Pearson’s Magazine and The Tatler. For many years he ran his own school of art, the New Art School and School of Poster Design. He was a member of RI, RWA, London Sketch and Savage Clubs. He lived in London and designed posters for the Great Northern Railway and numerous other clients. Like many artists who achieved a huge reputations through commercial work, Hassall craved public recognition of a different sort. Through his Royal Academy exhibits – larger, ambitious, historical works – he sought to establish himself as an academic painter. These works, however, lack the originality, liveliness and invention of his instantly recognisable and hugely successful commercial work.


John Hassall (1868 - 1948)
Portrait of Bert Thomas
John Hassall (1868 - 1948)
The original design for Tom Tom the Pipers Son …. , 1900
John Hassall (1868 - 1948)
The original design for Tom Tom The Piper’s Son (with long hood), circa 1900