The Lyons Lithographs: an ingenious design solution

Lyons Tea Shops were once a familiar sight on British high streets. After the second world war, the café chain faced a problem as a lack of materials made redecorating difficult. Their solution: to commission leading artists to create an amazing series of lithographs

Barnett Freedman, People, 1947

Lyons Tea Shops were once a familiar sight on British high streets. After the second world war, the café chain faced a problem as a lack of materials made redecorating premises difficult. Their solution: to commission leading artists to create an amazing series of lithographs to be used in the Tea Shops

 

Michael Ayrton, The Spectators, c 1949-51


Post-war British artists including Edward Bawden, David Gentleman, John Nash and LS Lowry were all commissioned by catering giant J Lyons & Co for the scheme. Their work was featured in some 200 Lyons Teashops nationwide.

 

Laurence Stephen (LS) Lowry, Industrial Scene, c 1946-7

 

 

David Gentleman, Cornish Pilchard Boat, c 1953-55

 

Edward Bawden, The Dolls at Home, 1947


Forty lithographs were commissioned in three series, from 1946 to 1955. A complete set, together with paintings and sketches, is on show at the Towner gallery’s exhibition The Lyons Teashops Lithographs: Art in a Time of Austerity in Eastbourne.

 

Sam Rabin, Last Round, c 1953-55


Edwin La Dell, Hastings, 1947

 

“Presenting a very particular British idyll, the lithographs depict urban, industrial, rural and coastal landscapes, domestic interiors, street scenes and still-lifes,” according to the gallery. “Pictures of leisure pursuits such as billiards, cricket, fishing, punting, boxing and piano-playing vie with scenes of a railway station, a hotel lobby and fishmonger’s shop; and apple pickers in a Kent orchard contrast with yeoman warders at the Tower of London and afternoon tea in Henley.”

 

 

John Piper, Elizabethan Dance (crop), 1953-55

 

The Lyons Teashops Lithographs: Art in a Time of Austerity 1946 – 1955, is on until September 22. See here for details

 

 

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