School Prints Ltd. was established in 1935 by arts campaigner Brenda Rawnsley (1917 – 2007) and her husband Derek., with the ambition of creating affordable prints of works of art so that school children (of primary school age) would have access to quality art. Schools were asked to subscribe to receive the posters. Derek died in a flying accident in Kenya in 1943, but after the war Brenda revived the company and looked for a new way of providing art in the educational setting.
This series of School Prints original lithographs was commissioned from a range of contemporary artists, with the help and guidance of Herbert Read, who was at that time a Director of George Routledge & Sons publishers and keenly interested in art education for children. They set up an advisory panel of art and educational experts of the time to help guide the project. The aim was to provide school children with access to quality contemporary works of art that were affordable enough for the schools to purchase. The School Prints were published from 1946 - 1949 and were printed by Baynard Press from plates drawn by the artists, using no more than six colours. `Each of the posters includes a border to the image that acts as a frame.
The prints reflect the optimism of modernity in the post-war years. The series was envisaged (as described by Rawnsley when writing to the artists) to provide four works of art for each term, keeping the price low enough as to be affordable for all education authorities. Each was the same size and format, and the commissioning details required the design to be a subject understandable to children. Contributing artists included L.S. Lowry, John Nash and Henry Moore. By 1948, Rawnsley had added Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy and Henri Matisse to the list of School Print artists, although the project ended in 1949.
As one can well imagine, the popularity and prices for these posters today, depends on availability and the artist - in contrast to the original intention (and audience). I love the intention of these artworks and I love that it is another example of inspiring women leading change.
See the School Prints we have in stock in our online shop.
Hopkinson, Martin. “School Prints.” Print Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 3, 2007, pp. 331–333. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41826673. Accessed 21 Feb. 2021.