Barnett Freedman 1901-1958

Artist biography

British painter, lithographer, illustrator and designer. At 15, Freedman's talent for drawing led to jobs as a draughtsman for a monumental mason, then for an architect. After five years' evening study at St Martin's School of Art, London, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art (1922–5), where he later became a teacher himself. As a painter, Freedman was neither reactionary nor avant-garde; traditional subject-matter, in a subdued but contemplative manner, gave little hint of his ebullient personality. He is remembered chiefly as a pioneer of colour autolithography for machine production at the Curwen and Baynard presses, which he achieved by transferring drawings on stone to offset plates. Freedman autolithographed some 40 book jackets and numerous posters and played a leading role in the production of large-scale colour prints for Contemporary Lithographs (1937), Lyons (1947, 1951, 1955) and Guinness (1956). He staged plays, designed the Silver Jubilee stamp in 1935 and tackled ephemera with consummate professionalism. An official war artist, first with the British Expeditionary Force in France, then with the Admiralty until 1946, Freedman won the CBE for his work. This included large-scale paintings, portraits of entire ships' crews and the notable lithograph 15-inch Gun Turret in HMS Repulse. After the war, he became a rumbustious TV and radio personality.

Manchester, Met. U., All Saints Lib. [archive of letters and ephemera]


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