Hugh Street was a publisher. He traded under the name of Hugh Evelyn (London) Limited. Evelyn was his middle name. He died more than ten years ago, an uncle with no children. Some months after his death this cache of his prints was discovered in storage, wrapped in waxed Kraft paper. All but four of the 52 categories are between 50 and 60 years old. The other four just under. They were in storage for upwards of 30 years.
A quantity of these prints have been purchased by interior designers here and overseas. Some are used to create wall galleries – two can be seen here (from the fine art supplier, Etalage UK). There is an interesting article from 2017 about wall galleries in the New York Times.
Hugh left the Royal Navy to pursue a career in publishing. On the desk of a friend he noticed a drawing of a railway engine. It was simple but expressive, detailed yet decorative. The drawing, by an engineer, was an experiment in lithography which ignited Hugh’s decision to publish images created with such precision and accuracy.
Hugh once said he thought the 18th Century print makers would themselves have used plates to exploit the detail and decoration the camera often underplayed had they lived in the 20th Century. So he adopted these ideas with artists and skilled draughtsmen who could make sensitive use of line-enclosing areas with exact colour. This is where chromolithography excelled.
These images of those objects, sans background and other paraphernalia, were worthy of presentation for their own sake. Some of his artists were, or were to become famous: John Mollo, who drew our mediaeval knights, and our stunning Light Brigade images won two Oscars as a costume designer (Star Wars IV) and Gandhi; Roy Cross, an accomplished marine and aviation painter, became known as the man who helped make Airfix one of the best known toy brands in the 1960’s and 70’s; artist George Oliver drew and described our early cars in the 1960’s and then became a much sought after automobile artist who, among other feats, produced the images for the official history of Citroën; Faith Jaques , who illustrated the 60 images for the History of Costume, had created the original drawings for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and later, Nina Bawden’s children’s classic Carrie’s War; Lawrence Dunn, who drew our Atlantic liners, had worked for the Admiralty in ship recognition during the 1939-45 War and later wrote a number of marine books as well as illustrating for The Eagle, the boys weekly, Everybody’s and Sphere;
Early on Hugh also recognised a market opportunity for colourful artwork to record the history of military uniforms and of civil costume. Hugh published over 40 books all of which are long since out of print. But he decided the prints justified their own outlet. Until the end of the 1960’s Hugh had his own shop in the King’s Road, London where he sold his books alongside these prints. In the early 1970’s he decided to pursue other interests. It seems he always intended to come back to his prints when he stored them, but he never did.
What we have to offer here are many of the plated prints from the original print runs for 50 years ago. We decided to create a website around these prints but in doing so wanted both to tell the story about the prints but also to tell the history behind the subject matter of the prints themselves.