The Power of Print: Leonard Beaumont Rediscovered

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By day Leonard Beaumont was a newspaper printer - by night an artist who caught the mood of the times. Beaumont, who worked in the art department of the Sheffield Telegraph in the early part of the last century, spent his evenings making art. The self-taught prolific artist's skilful etchings and vibrant modernist linocuts have rarely been seen.

But now an exhibition in his home city belatedly shows off the best of his graphic and dynamic prints and etchings.

It is his prints, influenced by Futurism and the Vorticists, which are by far the most exciting.

A fine example is the 1932 lino print called Grinders, a striking monochrome image of two men sharpening knives which is clearly symbolic of Sheffield's steel industry.

The work has a real sense of rhythm typical of movements that revelled in the speed of modern life and the triumph of mechanisation.

A haunting design for a Christmas card reveals Beaumont's political sympathies with a clear message about the Spanish Civil War in 1936. As bombs rain down on one side, it reads: "Peace on earth and mercy mild - two for a woman and one for a child."

Beaumont attended evening classes at the Sheffield School of Art from 1912-15 and he made prints in his spare time, learning etching from a book and designing his own printing press. He found inspiration for his etchings in scenes of steelworks, while capturing dramatic vistas of the Alps during holidays in Switzerland.

He left Sheffield in 1936 and moved to London, getting a job at United Artists, designing film adverts, before moving to the advertising agency Mather & Crowther. Here, during the war, he wrote, "We got more and more involved in war propaganda."

Shortly before his death Beaumont donated over 80 of his prints to his home city. The exhibition features works not seen for almost 30 years.

The Power of Print: Leonard Beaumont Rediscovered is at Graves Gallery, Sheffield, until 14 September