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David Gentleman in Cornwall


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DAVID GENTLEMAN is one of Britain's leading artists and designers. His work has included lithographs, woodcuts, watercolours, designs for postage stamps, posters, logos for large business and other organisations (such as British Steel and the National Trust), book illustration and murals; his books of watercolours and drawings of countries and places around the world demonstrate his wide interest in landscape and architecture.

    David Gentleman was born 11 March 1930. He spent his early years in Hertford with his artistic family (his mother was a painter and his father was head of the design department at Shell). In 1948/9 he was called-up for National Service, most of that time being spent in the Army Education Corps School of Education in Bodmin, Cornwall. As sergeant in charge of the art room his talents were called upon for various tasks one of which was the design and painting of a large mural in the Sergeants Mess depicting Cornish life. Gentleman is shown (left) in army uniform in Truro, Cornwall prior to an orchestral concert (details here) in the Cathedral on 14 May 1949.

    The drawing (below right) by David Gentleman in 1949 shows the single track steam railway from Bodmin GWR Station to Bodmin Road (now known as Parkway) as it passes the Army School of Education. The guard room is at bottom left. Note the 'BR' on the side of the engine, an abbreviation of 'British Railways', the national amalgamation of four major private railway companies into one government controlled system GentlemanBodmin2a.jpg - 51617 Bytesthat had taken place just a year or so earlier. The branch line was closed as a result of the 1963 Beeching plan for 'rationalisation' of the railways but later reopened by a local preservation society. Steam trains continue to give pleasure to tourists and enthusiasts on what is now known as the Bodmin and Wenford Railway.

    Following service in the army, Gentleman studied at St Alban's Art School and the Royal College of Art in London.   In the early 1960s he and five other artists received invitations from the Post Office to design three stamps for National Productivity Year. His set of designs was chosen for printing and distribution. Gentlemanstamp1.jpg - 29269 BytesFrom then on he became much in demand for further designs. His stamps for the Shakespeare Festival (1964), the Death of Winston Churchill (1965), Christmas (1973 and 1989), Concorde debut (1969), Charles Darwin Anniversary (1982) up to the Millennium Timekeeping set in 1999 are but a part of his total output of over one hundred designs. His design which incorporated swastikas and iron crosses on some of the Battle of Britain 25th Anniverary (1965) stamps met with some opposition. In an interview, Gentlemanstamp2.jpg - 25896 BytesDavid Gentleman explained, "The Foreign Office said they would harm Anglo-German relations. Tony Benn, then Postmaster General, said that this was nonsense - battles were about adversaries, not friendly relations - and the swastikas and Iron Crosses stayed on the stamps!".
Other projects have been a 100 metre mural at the Charing Cross Underground station in 1979, stamp design in Papua-New Guinea and jackets for Penguin Books.
David lives and works in Camden Town, London and has a 'country retreat' in Suffolk.



David Gentleman at The Stamp Show 2000 in London, May 2000.
(Photograph taken by Larry Rosenblum)



Mevagissey Harbour 1949 (Author's collection)

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David Gentleman has produced several profusely illustrated books, with his own entertaining commentary, as a result of his travels in Britain, France Italy and India. The example on the right, 'Mevagissey', is from 'David Gentleman's Britain' (produced in 1982 and still in print).
With acknowledgement to David Gentleman and the publishers, George Weidenfield and Nicholson, London.


The harbour at Mevagissey in 1969 (Author's collection)

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