Will H. Bradley (1868-1962)
Cover for 'The Inland Printer'
Line block print
Museum no. E.3033-1921
Will Bradley, the self-styled 'Dean of American Typographers', was one of the USA's foremost graphic designers. His work was exhibited in Paris along with that of Mucha, Lalique and other European artists. He shared many of their influences, and was the only American graphic artist to have developed a significant Art Nouveau style.
A complex, writhing floral pattern dominates this image. The use of this pattern as the main motif is unusual. Traditionally, decoration surrounds an image, existing in the margins. Here it becomes the centrepiece, while the more lifelike image is pushed to one side as a narrow panel.
Although this pattern is thoroughly Art Nouveau in style, it has an Oriental feel to it. It particularly recalls the long, flowing saz leaves of Persian textiles. The right hand panel has the look of Japanese printmaking. Its simplicity is a contrast to the detail of the main panel. The way Bradley has cropped the image closely makes the figure into an unrecognisable abstract shape. Only the head and feet reveal it to be a human being.
This print can be found in Prints and Drawings Study Room box TOPIC 21a.