Monday, February 28, 2011

Arnold Beauvais

One of the names that crops up regularly in our upcoming Thriller Index is that of Arnold Beauvais. He was the main artist for Super Detective Library, contributing from almost the beginning—his first cover appearing on issue 7 (July 1953) and his last on issue 112 (September 1957). In all he produced 89 covers for Super Detective, almost half the total for that paper's 188 issue-run and included an uninterrupted run between issues 14 and 49 (October 1953 to March 1955).

Sadly, it seems that none of his covers have survived the years and we could find no examples of original artwork to include in The Thriller Index. To redress the balance a little, as his work on Super Detective Library certainly deserves some recognition, here's a little background on Beauvais, illustrated with some of his covers.

Arnold Victor Beauvais was the third child of Charles Henri Beauvais, a talented painter born in Marseille in 1860 or 1861 (not 1864 as some record). After training in Paris, Charles came to England where,  in 1882, he married Emily Annie Corfield in Dartford, Kent. Charles and Annie went on to have six children: Daisy (1882-1980), Raoul Ernest Jules (1884- ), Arnold Victor, Reginald Louis (1888-1921), Charles Frederick (1895-1960) and Delphine Henriette (1905-1991). Charles certainly encouraged his children's artistic talents: Daisy was listed as an artist (sculpture) in census records and Charles Frederick Beauvais became an industrial designer, working in the car industry in England and Australia before setting up his own company.

The Beauvais family was raised in Lewisham and Streatham, their father working as an artist and lithographer from home. Arnold, born in Catford on 13 April 1886, began working in his father's studio at the age of 14 whilst studying art during the evenings at Bolt Court Art School, Fleet Street.

In 1903, Charles returned to France, taking his whole family with him. In Marseilles he opened a commercial art studio. Arnold, meanwhile, spent sixteen months studying in Paris before joining his father's studio.

Charles died in Marseilles in 1909, aged only 48 (some sources say 1911), and Arnold took over the management of the studio for the next few years. He returned to England in 1913, renting a studio in Chancery Lane, and produced artwork for a wide range of clients, including J. Lyons, R.K.O. Radio Pictures, Black & White Whisky, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Co., Youngers Scotch Ales and many others. His illustrations and cartoons appeared in adverts, on film posters, in magazines and on jigsaw puzzles.

His most famous advertising campaign was probably the 'Where's George?—Gone to Lyonch' campaign for Lyons' Teashops in the mid- to late-1930s. The catchphrase caught on and was often used wherever anyone was missing; it even inspired a film starring comedian Sydney Howard which, lacking a character called George, is better known nowadays as Hope of his Side (1935).

Beauvais was so successful in his career that it allowed him not only to paint for pleasure but to indulge in his other hobby, singing. He made his debut as the King in Prince Ferelon; or, The Princess's Suitors at the Florence Etinger School of Opera in November 1919 and then played Sarastro in The Magic Flute at the Old Vic (1920); his other appearances at the Old Vic included Ferrando in Il Trovatore (1922?), King Mark in Tristan and Isolde (1923), the King in Fete Galante (1924) and Aida (1925) and a soldier in Carmen for the Old Vic's reopening in 1928, as well as appearing in Figaro later that year. Beauvais also performed in Don Giovanni at the Coliseum (1924) and in performances of Rigaletto, Lohengrin, Faust and others. Beauvais also designed a famous poster in 1921 when the Old Vic, in Waterloo Road, London, appealed for £30,000 in donations to bring the theatre up to safety regulations.

He also sang on the radio in its early days of broadcasting from Savoy Hill and made several recordings for Columbia.

The work he produced for film distribution companies included posters for many famous films, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Swiss Family Robinson, Ip in Arms and all the subsequent Danny Kaye films. He regularly painted posters for Walt Disney, including Snow White, Bambi, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Hans Anderson, Peter Pan and a host of Disney's nature films. The success of the films meant that this work was often used to illustrate the associated "book of the film" titles that were produced by Colllins.

His involvement with the film world began in the mid-1930s and lasted for two decades, during which time he also produced a highly successful series of caricatures of famous film stars for the magazine Film Weekly, using an air-brush technique that was little used at the time.

Beauvais was also teacher at the Bolt Court Art School, his old alma mater, in the 1930s. He was also a member of the London Sketch Club from 1929; he was elected President in 1936 and was subsequently a Life Member.

His association with Super Detective Library slowed down from 1956, in which year Beauvais reduced his commercial commitments in order to concentrate on oil paintings. In around 1959, he began colouring a two-page spread in the nursery comic Jack and Jill which was drawn primarily by Walter Booth; the spread, entitled 'There Was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe' depicted various scenes of what the children got up to; Beauvais took over the strip in 1960 when it was renamed 'The Children Who Lived in the Shoe' and continued the panoramic illustrations for about a year. He was later able to give up commercial work entirely but continued to paint purely for pleasure.

Beauvais was married in 1922 to Dorothy Agnes Baines at Hampstead, with whom he had three children: Yvonne Gladys (1923-1980), Daphne D. (1926- ) and Thomas C. V. (1932- ). Dorothy died in 1935 and Beauvais remarried in 1939 to Ella May K. Gosling at Staines, with whom he had Walter John (1942-1998), who was also a widely exhibited painter, and Clive R. (1945- ).

Arnold Beauvais died in Surrey on 22 April 1984, aged 97.

(* Super Detective Library © IPC Media.) 

1 comment:

  1. hey i like to find out more about aronld painting time in windsor where i belive he lived before he moved to hampstead any art lovers out there