Coming in to land

Another thing that Morphets has made me think about is the work of Lander, Reginald Montague Lander to be precise.  (I used to think he was called Eric, perhaps as the result of a misattribution somewhere, but he isn’t.  So there.)

Now, I am a huge fan of his work, mainly as a result of this poster.

British Railways RM Lander English lakes poster

It’s a poster I have a sentimental spot for, because it’s the first one I ever bought at auction.  But I also think it’s brilliant; it’s a modernist re-imagining of the great tradition of railway Quad Royal landscape posters in a way that really works.  I can’t think of another poster quite like it.  (Apologies for the flash reflection, by the way, it’s an unfortunate side-effect of framing things).

So, considering that he can produce posters as great as this, why doesn’t he get more recognition for his work?  There are a couple of reasons I think.

One is that, reinforcing Paul Rennie’s point of the other day, his stuff rather falls between two stools.  The vast majority of his posters were produced for British Railways.  But they’re not (with the odd exception above) the kind of nostalgic landscapes that railway collectors really fall for.  So the railway buffs don’t much care for his stuff, and the mid-century modernists don’t notice him that much because, well, it’s railway posters.  (Almost all the images here come from the National Railway Museum via the NMSI search engine, as you can see.  No one else seems to have any quantities of his work at all).

He did produce a few images which are instantly recognisable, and do sell, in particular these two for Paignton, both from 1956-ish.

Lander Paignton Poster British Railways

Lander Paignton British Railways poster

At its best, his work can hold its own with any of the designers of the time, as the images above, and this 1960 poster  show.

Lander Car Ferry British Railways poster

But part of the problem is that he can’t be pinned down to a recognisable Lander style.  He did cheerful cartoons in the style of Amstutz and  Bruce Angrave, or even early Tom Eckersley.

Lander original painting for get out by train british railways poster

Lander Plymouth British Railways poster

(Original painting from 1960, poster from 1961).

He could do more traditional railway posters too; these are from 1957, and the second one reminds me a great deal of Percy Drake Brookeshaw, although with slightly less migraine-inducing colours.

Lander British railways north east coast poster 1957

Lander British railways folkstone poster 1957

He could do you whimsical neoclassical or modern text if you wanted, too.

Lander Brighton and Hove british railways poster

Lander Hastings by train British Railways poster

He was also very good at drawing complicated buildings.

Lander Leamington Spa poster British Railways

But this great long list also hints at the other problem with his work.  He was so prodigously productive, that not every poster of his is great, or even good.  How could they be when he seemed to be churning out a poster every other day?

But that’s not a reason to under-estimate his great designs.  He still deserves to be seen by more than just railway poster fanatics.

Lander Porthcawl British railways poster

It’s also worth noting that his extraordinary energy meant that he carried on as a poster designer for far longer than almost anyone else.  We’ve got a selection of BR posters of his from 1978.  And the NMSI collection includes a set of designs from 1980, including this.

Lander Surrey Towns British Railway poster 1980

I had no idea that anything of the sort was being commissioned by then.

Finally, should I have persuaded you about Mr Lander’s work, Hastings and the Plymouth poster above are both for sale at Morphets tomorrow and Thursday, estimated at £75-125 and £1oo-150 respectively, along with fifty or more others.

Lander mixed lot from Morphets

Hurry now, it’s almost time to get your bids in.

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