An original mid-20th-century pen & ink drawing, Louis Valentine Tenement View from Empire Theatre, Edinburgh.
This evocative ink and wash drawing shows a view of tenement buildings from a rear dressing room window at the former Empire Theatre on Edinburgh's Nicholson Street. The Empire Theatre, opened in 1892, became a bingo hall in 1963, and in 1994 reopened as Edinburgh Festival Theatre. This drawing shows a unique, glimpsed rear view and evidences Louis Valentine's role as actor as well as artist.
Unsigned. Inscribed upper left.
Some foxing towards the upper edge as shown.
34cm x 20.8cm.
This work is one of a collection of drawings and watercolour paintings by the illustrator Louis “Val” Valentine, a well-known cartoonist and entertainer whose heyday was in the 1950s. The works span the middle decades of the 20th century and embody a British illustrative tradition. His monochrome drawings exemplify his talents as an illustrator; depicting childhood activities such as net fishing, dinghy sailing and ballet practice, they appear to be the original artwork for children’s books given his frequent publication in the genre. Working directly in ink and wash, Valentine’s strength lies in capturing the playfulness of his subjects with the charisma and vitality of the 1950s era. The collection also includes landscape and coastal views which have a strong illustrative quality. Whilst most views are typically British, the collection also includes paintings of Durban, South Africa and St Mark's Square in Venice.
Little is documented about Louis Valentine. He was certainly an entertainer, possibly travelling around England in the 1930s and 40s performing in burlesque and vaudeville acts, before finding success as a cartoonist and illustrator. The 1950s were a prolific time for Valentine – he published the art drawing manuals “How to Be a Lightening Cartoonist” and “Valentine’s Complete Guide to Drawing for the Junior Artist”; provided covers for children’s books, such as Rip Van Winkle, Sunny Tales from our Village and two editions of the Archie Andrews Annuals; and he was also listed as a performer in a number of BBC television variety shows.
His fluidity between work on both page and screen indicate that Valentine had a knack for diverting storytelling which made him a rising figure in the emergence of pop culture. Valentine’s celebrity continued to climb by the end of the 1950s, taking him from work in London all the way to the sunny hills of Hollywood. The December 1959 edition of The Billboard notes that Valentine was appointed as Director of Recording for Verve Records, under the Capitol Label. He died in the 1980s.
Text copyright © 2017 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.
Product code: JF-320