#354 – Crewe Works by Lili Rethi

Crewe Works

I love old railway posters, anything done before about 1960 had so much style and panache. The railway companies used a variety of artists, from commercial artists, to fine artists, notables include the likes of Terence Cuneo who is one of my favourite transport artists.

I’ve loved this particular one since I saw it in a book of railway posters I got about 15 years ago, and have even managed to get a fantastically bad colour photocopy from the National Railway Museum. I imagine colour photocopy technology has improved over the past 10 years so I might see about getting another one.

A Google search has revealed that Lili Rethi did a lot of industrial and architectural artwork and with a meticulous level of detail. There appears to be no monographs of her work unfortunately.

I love the romanticised interpretation of heavy industry, and the energy in the photograph – there’s a real sense of movement and industrious effort. But I also like the standard of draughtsmanship as well as the use of colour – clearly the paint was the last thing applied to a locomotive in real life, but the artistic leap of faith has allowed what looks like a Princess Coronation to really stand out against the background. It’s almost like the use of selective colour in photography, while the use of a form of aerial perspective allows the background to fade away and be less prominent.



3 Comments Add yours

  1. I’d never heard of this artist until seeing this but I love it. It feels similar in spirit to Stanley Spencer’s really fine work on the Clyde, with heroic yet contorted figures, used skilfully to convey the drama and action of the works. I’m off to find more of her work now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. andy says:

      Thanks Iain, there isn’t much of her work on the web unfortunately, but what there is is rather good. I don’t recall seeing anything else railway related, for what it’s worth.


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