Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Richard O. Rose: A Mid-Century Mystery

Last week frequent Today's Inspiration contributor David Roach did it again; he sprung a bunch of scans on me by another wonderful mid-century British illustrator: Richard O. Rose.


David writes, "Another illo from John Bull – with a use of perspective which reminds me of a great shot by Noel Sickles in the recent book of his art."



He continues, "... ultra clean lines and subtle pastel colours , a great artist I’ve actually seen very little by."


"I suspect that underneath it all Rose was probably inspired by Ronald Searle but he’s one of those artists it’s hard to pin down..."

"... is he a cartoonist doing straight stuff, or a straight man doing cartoons?"

David concludes, "A friend of mine thinks [Rose] might have done a few ads – which wouldn’t be a great revelation – but as for any personal details – zilch."

David and I are hoping that, as has happened so often before, by presenting Richard O. Rose on Today's Inspiration, someone from the community will step forward with additional information.

* More of Richard O. Rose's terrific illustrations - again with thanks to David Roach - tomorrow!

* Addendum to the Arnold Friberg post: Greg Newbold has done a follow-up post on Friberg, visit Greg's blog for more!


  1. What a great illustrator!

  2. This is fantastic work! I'm really taken aback by his use of color - those are some gorgeous hues, especially on that John Bull cover. Man, I hope someone dredges up more scans of Rose's work.

    In terms of inspirations, though, I don't see much Ronald Searle. If anything, he's plays the line between loose/tight, realistic/cartoonish like Jack Davis. But given his British roots, the look of his characters, and his palette, I'd be really surprised if he wasn't influenced by Arthur Rackham.

    Whoever his influences are, he does wonderful stuff!

  3. These are terrific. I had to jump over to the Flickr pages and view them at their largest. I noticed a technique used by Hal Ketchum, and others, where the outlines drop out and they complete the shape with interior lines. In one case where a boy is running, the entire bottom of his pants are not drawn and the shape is defined by a color tone.

    I love this kind of thing and have never thought to use it myself.

  4. Yikes, I meant Hank Ketcham! There is a Hal Ketchum but he wasn't who I was referring to.

  5. These are really superb! Thanks for putting them up!

  6. Chad Sterling4:39 AM

    That illustration/cartoon style is reminiscent of some of Al Dorne's best pieces.Can't see him being a big influence in the UK though.

  7. My first view of his work was also in John Bull. He did various pieces in a similar vein between 1954 to 1958 to my knowledge. But personal bio? Nope sorry, can't help either...here's hoping readers will come forward

  8. That flickr set of Rose's is just stunning! As usual, thanks for bringing this to us Leif.

  9. Hi,I have just googled Richard Rose following the death of his sister Joan Overend Rose at the age of 101, 2nd cousin to my husband Andrew Barton. Richard was born on 1912 in Sutton Surrey and moved to Herne Bay in the late 20's. He was a bomber in the Royal Airforce during the second world war. He was an illustrator for John Bull and a number of other publishers, including Macmillan for the Nipper series, Penguin books. Unfortunately we do not know everyone that Richard illustrated for. We have a few beautiful paintings he did. We also have a some sketches and a sketch book that we have come across on clearing out Joan's belonging. If you are interested in seeing these please let me know. Regards Trish Barton

  10. Richard O Rose drew an illustration for my dad in 1969 as a "going away card" from Lockheed Missiles & Space Company. My dad left Lockheed to go teach at a University so Mr Rose drew my dad in cap and gown flying away on a Lockheed missile. The card was then signed by my dad's colleagues. The drawing is a bit faded, but I can scan it and post it if anyone wants to see it.