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The tube train

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1985,1005.21

  • Title (object)

    • The tube train
  • Description

    Two rows of commuters seated facing, reading newspapers. c.1934 Colour linocut, printed in yellow, red, light and dark blue, on oriental tissue

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1934 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 310 millimetres
    • Width: 315 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Signed, titled and numbered "2/60" in pencil in image and again in left margin. Annotated in pencil in lower left margin "Col. Lino £2/2/-".
  • Curator's comments

    According to the artist's son, Edmund Berry Power DSC (letter to Sheila O'Connell, dated 17 October 2003), the print "was inspired by the rush hour trains on the District line at Hammersmith". Power had a studio in Hammersmith during the 1930s.

    Text by Stephen Coppel from Frances Carey & Antony Griffiths, 'Avant-Garde British Printmaking 1914-1960', BMP 1990, no.62.
    An expressionistic distortion similar to that in 'The Exam Room' characterises this depiction of mask-faced commuters enduring the monotonous rocking and rattling of the London Underground District Line train on its nightmarish rush-hour run. 'The Tube Train' is one of several lino-cuts of the Underground made by Power. Annotated sketches of the interior of a Tube train are recorded in an undated sketchbook addressed on the flyleaf "22 Buckingham Street Adelphi" (ff.14 and 19); although these sketches are devoid of human figures, they do include such telling visual details as the hanging straps, overhead lamps, sliding doors and the advertisements found within an Underground train compartment.

    An experimental proof of this print (now in the Australian National Gallery in Canberra) shows how the artist at one stage contemplated printing the third block in viridian before finally deciding upon the light cobalt blue used in the edition. The existence of such proofs is evidence of the care with which Power selected his colours in order to achieve an effect of heightened tension.

    'The Tube Train' and 'The Exam Room' were each offered for sale at 2 guineas by the Redfern Gallery in 1934. The British Museum's impression of 'The Tube Train' still bears the original price marked by the dealer in the margin.

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  • Bibliography

    • Coppel CEP41 bibliographic details
  • Location

    British XXc Mounted Roy

  • Exhibition history

    1990/1 Sep-Jan, BM, Avant-Garde British Printmaking 1914-1960, no. 62
    1991/2 Nov-Jan, Middlesborough AG, Avant-Garde British Printmaking
    1992 Feb-April, Plymouth City Mus & AG, Avant-Garde British Printmaking
    1992 May-June, Glasgow, Hunterian AG, Avant-Garde British Printmaking
    1992 Oct-Dec, Manchester, Whitworth AG, Avant-Garde British Printmaking
    1999 Sep-Nov, Aylesbury, Bucks County Mus, Great Printmakers/20thC
    2013/14 Sep-Feb, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia.

  • Subjects

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1985

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1985,1005.21

Two rows of commuters seated facing, reading newspapers. c.1934
Colour linocut, printed in yellow, red, light and dark blue, on oriental tissue

Reproduced by permission of the artist’s estate, Osborne Samuel, London and the Bridgeman Art Library

Image description

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