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Poster, Winter Sales Are Best Reached by the Underground

This is a Poster. It was designed by E. McKnight Kauffer and printed by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son and made for (as the client) Underground Electric Railways of London Company Ltd.. It is dated 1922 and we acquired it in 1963. Its medium is lithograph. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

American-born graphic artist E. McKnight Kauffer began his commercial arts career as a teenager working as a scene painter for a theater stock company, then as an assistant to a bookseller and art dealer in San Francisco. There, a university professor saw his artistic potential and sent him to Europe to study painting in the 1910s. He eventually settled in London, where he lived until the outbreak of World War II. Incorporating fine-art sensibilities into commercial design—such as for the London Underground—he became one of the country’s most acclaimed poster designers, helping to raise the status of the commercial arts to that of the fine arts. He combined simple, symbolic forms and bold colors with sparse, bold, and straightforward text. Here, silhouettes of women float against a spiral background, possibly inspired by expressionist painting, to encourage traveling by the LUD to shop at winter sales. Despite Kauffer's renown, he was not without critics, including typographers. He refused to adjust letter spacing, sometimes resulting in an uneven composition. As he did in this poster on the lower text lines, he sometimes added a triangle motif at the end of lines to accommodate for the awkward spacing.

This object was donated by Mrs. Edward McKnight Kauffer. It is credited Gift of Mrs. E. McKnight Kauffer.

  • Poster, The Chap-Book (Blue Lady)
  • color zincograph on thin cream wove paper.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman and Ely Jacques Kahn.
  • 2003-6-1

Our curators have highlighted 1 object that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

101.8 × 63.4 cm (40 1/16 × 24 15/16 in.)

It is signed

Printed in script, in grey ink, center right: mck. kauffer. 22

It is inscribed

Printed in tan ink, lower margin: 1300. 21-11-22 1000 VINCENT BROOKS DAY & SON LTD. LITH. LONDON. W.C.2.

Cite this object as

Poster, Winter Sales Are Best Reached by the Underground; Designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer (American, active England, 1890–1954); Printed by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son; Client: Underground Electric Railways of London Company Ltd.; England; lithograph; 101.8 × 63.4 cm (40 1/16 × 24 15/16 in.); Gift of Mrs. E. McKnight Kauffer; 1963-39-22

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Poster, Winter Sales Are Best Reached by the Underground |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>