By Underground to fresh air, by Maxwell Ashby Armfield, 1915

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Maxwell Ashby Armfield designed this bold poster for the Underground in 1915. The circles look as though they have been punched out of Japanese woodcuts. Against the black background, they become planetary forms in a night sky. Although life in London had been greatly affected by the onset of war, posters like these continued to promote leisure travel. However, as the war continued, and fuel became rationed, the posters' focus shifted towards public information, staff safety and propaganda. Maxwell Ashby Armfield designed posters for the Underground Group in 1915. Born in Ringwood, Hampshire, Maxwell Ashby Armfield was educated at Sidcot and Leighton Park Schools before studying at the Birmingham School of Art under Arthur Gaskin, In 1902, he moved to Paris and studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Atelier Colarossi. Whilst in Paris he shared a studio with Keith Henderson, Gaston Lachaise and Norman Wilkinson. He later went to Italy. Between 1915 and 1922 he lived in the USA. When he moved to Gloucestershire he became friendly with E McKnight Kauffer. In 1918, he ran, with his wife, the Department in Stage Design at Berkeley University. He lectured on stage design and was co-director of the Greenleaf Theatre Drama School. He was also a painter, etcher, illustrator, poet and writer. His tempera works were influenced by early Dutch and Italian Quattrocento painting. In 1978 there was a retrospective exhibition of his work at Southampton Art Gallery. Examples of his work are in the British Museum.
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