Original British 30 inch x 40 inch Quad Poster for the 1945 Sidney Gilliat Drama THE RAKE’S PROGRESS, written by Val Valentine and starring Rex Harrison, Lilli Palmer, Margaret Johnston, Godfrey Tearle, Guy Middleton, Jean Kent, Griffith Jones, Garry Marsh, Marie Lohr, David Horne, Alan Wheatley, Brefni O’Rorke, John Salew, Charles Victor, Joan Hickson, Olga Lindo, Howard Marion-Crawford, Emrys Jones and Kynaston Reeves.
The film’s plot follows the career of upper-class cad Vivian Kenway (Rex Harrison). He is sent down from Oxford University for placing a chamber pot on the Martyrs’ Memorial. Sent to South America, he rebels against plantation life, eventually becoming a car racing driver. He descends to a life of woman-chasing and drunkenness, which causes the death of his father, Colonel Kenway (Godfrey Tearle). The plot diverges from the theme of the Rake’s Progress paintings by having him redeem himself by a hero’s death in World War II.
The poster art is by Feliks Topolski. Born in Poland, Topolski studied at the Warsaw Academy of Art (1927-32) before moving to London in 1935. His graphic style made his work well suited to use as illustrations, and during the Second World War his reputation in Britain as a gifted draughtsman saw him appointed as an official war artist. Topolski painted a mural for the Festival of Britain in 1951. His paintings include The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and twenty portraits of literary figures (1961-2). In 1975 he began his vast panorama Memoir of the Century, a mural under the arches of Hungerford Bridge, London, where he had his postwar studio. The studio exists today as the Topolski gallery-bar-café-venue. The works lining the walls include vast sections of the original, Memoir of the Century, which chronicles the momentous events and great figures of Topolski’s era including Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Queen Elizabeth II and Elvis Presley.
The original Rake’s Progress was a series of eight paintings by 18th-century English artist William Hogarth. The canvases were produced in 1732–33, then engraved and published in print form in 1734. The series shows the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant, who comes to London, wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling, and as a consequence is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison and ultimately Bethlem Hospital, or Bedlam.
Feliks Topolski created a modern version of the original paintings through the opening credits of the film and also produced these superb drawings for the poster.
The poster is in very good folded condition with border pinholes, edge and fold wear, slight fold separation. The verso features duplicate images of Winston Churchill and the slogan “Help Him finish the Job, Vote National” produced for the Conservative campaign in June 1945 by S.H. Benson, Ltd., Kingsway Hall, London, W.C.2.
The surplus posters were then re-used for The Rake’s Progress and printed by Chromoworks Ltd., London NW10, for the film’s release in December.
Availability: 1 in stock