[Comp for Somebody’s Blue poster, Oct 1894]
Speculative poster design for an unnamed laundry bluing product, exhibited at the London Aquarium poster show of 1894-5. The show’s organizer, Edward Bella, offered posters and spec designs for sale. The artists would have inserted a prospective client’s name and product into this ‘comp,’ (short for ‘comprehensive’ sketch or layout). The perhaps too progressive design went unsold.
Public reception of their work was mixed. And that of critics was decidedly negative. M.H. Spielmann begrudgingly acknowledged their originality, but deemed their work ‘grim,’as did Charles Matlack Price.
“And finally, there are the grim designs of Mr. Pryde and Mr. Nicholson, artists who work at poster-making under the professional name of ‘The Beggarstaff Brothers.’ They are in the very van of the advance-guard of poster-designers who have led the faithful from the gaudy to the joyous, and on to the sober, to the melancholy, and the depressing. Messrs. Beggarstaffs’ design for ‘Hamlet‘ for Somebody's Blue, Dashes Candles, for Niggers, and for Pianos, are among the most striking of all the English attempts at original poster-designing, challenging the attention of the passer-by and claiming his admiration for the powerful and simple dignity of the figure in the first case (black upon brown), or for the effect of fine white lines and blue spots upon a black ground in the second. They are undeniably conceived in the minor key, and after impressing the beholder with their individuality, they send him away thoroughly dejected, and convinced of the entire rightness of their claim to be affixed to a ‘dead’ wall. They are about as like to Cheret’s posy-like affiches as a grim and ascetic old Carmelite is like to a lady of the cops de ballet.” (M.H. Spielmann, The Modern Poster, 1895.)
Two-color, hand-cut paper stencil and hand-painting on wrapping paper: blue and black. Denham: Beggarstaff Brothers, October 1894. Size unknown.
Ref: Bella-I, 194; Campbell.