John Hall Thorpe

1874 - 1947

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The Australian-born artist John Hall Thorpe had learnt the art of colour woodblock printing in the early 1890’s while still living in Sydney; however, he was not to use this art form as a creative medium until many years after his move to London in 1902. Like the key members of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, Hall Thorpe attended Heatherley’s School of Art and by the end of the First World War he had begun to make the style of colour woodcut through which he was to achieve lasting fame. He held his first one man show of his colour woodcuts in London in 1918 and his success was established almost immediately. Hall Thorpe became one of the foremost exhibitors at the Colour Woodcut Society, which was formed in 1920, and by 1930 his woodcuts were sold worldwide.

The gaily coloured original woodcuts of John Hall Thorpe became something of an international phenomenon during the 1920’s and 30’s. Designed with the specific intention of providing bright, colourful decoration, Hall Thorpe’s hand-made prints were produced as a reaction against what he saw as the dull, laborious realism of so much of the decoration in people’s homes at the time. These simple yet highly distinctive hand-made works were immensely popular in their day and will remain a definitive statement of interior design between the two World Wars.