Player's Past

Player's Past

Thomas Browne and John Player

Thomas Browne and John Player

Recently I have begun research into some of the artists whose work features on the hand-drawn adverts released by John Player.  The most well-known to Nottingham is Thomas Browne, born in Nottingham in 1870.  An example of his work was uploaded onto the blog entitled “Country Life”.  Here is another advert that is more cartoonish in style;

This advertisement was released by John Player approximately 1910.  Thomas Browne’s work featured on many “Weights” and “Country Life” adverts. 

Browne was first introduced to art when he was apprenticed to a Nottingham lithographic printing firm when he was 14.    His career as an artist and humorous draughtsman began at the age of seventeen when he discovered that he could draw and make what would now be described as caricatures of his friends.  They persuaded him to send his work to the comic magazine “Scraps” issued by James Henderson.  Browne was paid the equivalent of 3 months wages for his work by Henderson.  After completing his apprenticeship, Browne enrolled in a local art school but left after 3 months, stating it was ‘dull’.  It was the only formal artistic training he ever had.  Immediately after leaving the school he moved to London and his career took off.      

Browne was one of the most popular and respected pen and ink artists of the Victorian and Edwardian era.  He was genial and kind and this won him a great deal of friends, but he also inspired new generations of comic artists.  It’s strange that he drew thousands of sketches before and after establishing his own studio, but few of them have survived today.  We are lucky to have his work featured on some of the adverts in our collection.

 
 

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The Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard is part of Nottingham City Museums and Galleries.

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