Monday, April 02, 2007

Anton Lock

Elizabeth O'Reilly has asked for information about Anton Lock. Lock was a painter and illustrator whose work dates back to the 1920s and who has become a collectable painter, his work sold at Christie's in South Kensington in the 1970s.

The British Council offers the briefest of biographies -- "Anton Lock studied at Westminster School of Art where Walter Baynes was Head of School, and exhibited at the Leger Galleries, London in the 1930s." -- and give his dates as 1893-1971.

Another website, The Impressed Image, offers the following: "Painter, illustrator, etcher and wood engraver, he was a pupil of Sickert at the Westminster School of Art (1910-12) and later at the Bolt Court School of Lithography (1912-14) and was a contemporary of Blampied and Nicolson. Like them he features the horse in much of his work. He illustrated several books with pastoral and hunting themes. He lived in London and exhibited widely in the UK and Paris."

An eBay listing -- always tops for hard information -- for one of his paintings gives his dates as 1839-1979 (!) and offers the facts that he studied under Walter Sickert and was influenced at Bolt School in Fleet Street, where he learned the art of etching, by Walter Bayes. "Throughout his life his artwork has been exhibited in various galleries such as the Royal Academy, the Royal Watercolour Society and the Pastel Society to name a few. His passion for recording the draught horse in all its various roles came about during a period when these noble horses because of mechanisation were fast disappearing from the English scene. With his ability to capture the strengths and moods of the horses, he more than fulfilled his self-made task admirably, and this must assure him a place among the best of English artists."

Elsewhere I've seen his year of death given as 1970.

Lock lived at 14 Lancaster Road, Wimbledon S.W.19. He was registered at that address in phone books between 1949-79 and Christie's held a sale entitled Pictures, watercolours, drawings and prints from the studio of the late Anton Lock on 5 December 1979. The sale included artist's materials and furnishings, which sounds pretty much like Lock's studio was emptied that year. Christie's were selling Lock's paintings regularly between 1974-78.

A search of the death records from 1970 onwards completely failed to turn up an Anton Lock.

However, all is not lost. Anton would appear not to have been his real name -- it seems he was born Albert Lock. The reason I make this leap is fairly straightforward: there was an artist named Albert Lock contributing to various Amalgamated Press children's comics in the 1920s and who illustrated a couple of books by Draycot M. Dell around the same time (1919), Dell joined the A.P. about that time and was editor of Young Britain in 1920-21. Denis Gifford lists a number of Albert Lock's comic strips in his British Comic Catalogue and, in the index, lists 'Anton' as an alternate name. The connection is also made in some correspondence between John Jukes and Bill Lofts which I have and which I'll come back to.

Albert Lock's comic strips include: 'Peter & Doffy' (Wonderland Tales, 1920), 'Mother Redwand' (Wonderland Tales, 1920), 'Tony the Orphan Boy' (The Children's Fairy, 1921, and Bubbles and The Children's Fairy, 1921), 'In Red Eagle's Care' (Bubbles and The Children's Fairy, 1925), 'Peggy & Her Piggies' (Playbox, 1925), 'Pansy & Her Kitty Cats' (Playbox, 1928), 'Pat the Pirate' (Tiger Tim's Weekly, 1929), 'Tony & His Garage' (Bubbles and The Children's Fairy, 1934), 'Peter the Paleface Brave' (Bubbles, 1935), 'Playbox Cinema' (Playbox, 1938), 'Tales by Skipper Dan' (Playbox, 1940), 'Diary of Daniel Blane' (Jingles, 1949), 'Sandra the Sailor', (Playbox, 1954), 'Witchery Wood' (Rainbow, 1954), 'Jess & Jack' (Rainbow, 1955), 'Susie Sunshine' (Tiny Tots, 1956). Lock was still contributing at least as late as 1958-59 when various pages appeared in Jack and Jill Annual 1959, Fun in Toyland Annual 1959 and Harold Hare's Own Book 1960. Some examples are dotted around above and below.

The connection between Albert and Anton is further cemented by John Jukes who, writing to Bill Lofts in around 1960, mentioned "If you are going to see [Lock] you might ask him about Langton Townley. L. T. was editor of Chips and Comic Cuts in the early twenties and he rejected a lot of my stuff but always gave a reason for so doing... Lock may also lead you to Harry Lane, the Sexton Blake artists. They may have been buddies; they were of the same period."

Jukes links Anton Lock without question to the A.P. children's papers and to papers that Albert Lock contributed to: "Apart from duplicating [Warwick?] Reynolds, Lock did some good work in Puck and Tiger Tim -- chiefly story illustrations though I think he did a pic. serial or two."

Bill Lofts had tracked down Lock to his Wimbledon home but was wary of visiting him; the reasons are unknown but he admitted as much to Jukes who replied "In the sad circumstances you mention connected with him I think you are very tactful to leave him alone for a time." This was from a letter dated 31 December 1960. As far as I'm aware, Bill never did contact or visit Lock.

All rather sad. It is probably best to remember Lock in his earlier days when, as Jukes said, "he was a very active artist in the good old days of the A.P. and I was one of his most ardent admirers." In those active days in the 1920s, Lock was remembered for being very much the epitome of everyone's idea of an artist. According to Alan Clark, "He frequently wore artist's beret and smock and, in keeping with his appearance, he was also said to have the temperament of an artist in that he could be fiery and temperamental." Clark notes that Lock did the majority of his work for the Tiger Tim family of papers: "Lock's work for the annuals was particularly prominent: he contributed full-page line drawings and signed them with a large 'Lock'."

Update: 8 August 2007: Further research has finally resolved Anton's dates. He was born Albert Henry Lock on 21 January 1893 in Westminster, London, the son of Albert Lock (an inspector of Army clothing) and his wife Matilda. In later life he lived at 14 Lancaster Road, Wimbledon Common, London S.W.19. His death on 11 May 1979 was registered at Hammersmith.

Horses: Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings and Woodcuts by Anton Lock, preface by H. Granville Fell (catalogue of an exhibition held at the Leger Galleries, 28 Jan-21 Feb). London, J. Leger & Son, 1932?
Horses: Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings and Woodcuts by Anton Lock (catalogue of an exhibition held at the Leger Galleries, 8-27 February). London, Leger Galleries, 1933?
Horses by Anton Lock (catalogue of an exhibition held at the Leger Galleries, London, 2-25 October). London, J. Leger & Son, 1935?

Illustrated Books
Carrion Island. A buccaneer romance of the wide seas by Draycot M. Dell. London, Jarrolds, 1919.
The Wicked King. A child's history of the Great War by Draycot M. Dell. London, Jarrolds, 1919.
The Tale of Two Horses by A. F. Tschiffely. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1943.
Game: Track & Rifle by C. T. Stoneham. Huddersfield, Schofield & Sims, 1947.
Lord of the Jungle. "Bhurgi Bagh". The life story of a notorioius tiger by James Chilton. London, University of London Press, 1947.
The Cannons Roar by Douglas V. Duff. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1949.
Knight of the Woods by C. T. Stoneham. London, Sampson Low, 1949.
Romany Turns Detective by Glyn Evans. London, University of London Press, 1949.
The River That Changed Its Course, ed. John & Alison Tedman. London, Oxford University Press, 1961.


  1. There is only one mention of Anton Lock illustrating onbe of D.V.Duff's Books (Duff) was my father I have original drawings for at least 6 other book

  2. I have read with interest your history of Anton Lock. Which is all correct. I can confirm his death at the Royal Masonic Hospital, Hammersmith on the 11 May 1979. Also that his home was at 14 Lancaster Road, Wimbledon. He was also a member of the Savage Club and Master of the Lodge in 1957 and made an honorary member in 1976. Abert Henry Lock was my uncle (my mothers brother), I frequently visited him at his Wimbledon home, a three storey house with basement crammed with paintings and books. In the basement was where the etchings were done. He had his studio on the top floor. This was in the 60's and 70's. Some of his later paintings were very modern.
    David Kidd

  3. David,

    If you or your family have any further memories (or even a photo) to share, drop me a line (my address is top left, below the picture).

  4. There is an entry on Anton Lock in the ninth edition of "Who's Who in Art" (1958), Art Trade Press, presumably provided by Lock himself. This is the entry in full.

    Lock, Anton, P.S.; oil and water-colour painter, etcher, wood engraver, illustrator (animal and pastoral); b 21 Jan., 1893; s of Albert Henry Lock; m Evelyn Mary Mansell; one d. Educ.: Millbank; Westminster School, Vincent Square (Walter Sickert, 1910-12); School of Lithography, Bolt Ct (Walter Seymour, Walter Bayes, 1912-14). Exhib.: R.A., Paris Salon, R.O.I., R.B.A., R.W.S., P.S., British Museum, Oslo, Stockholm; provincial galleries, one-man shows at Leger Galleries. Official purchases: Etchings, woodcuts, drawings by British Museum, Contemporary Art Soc., British Council. Work repro.: in Studio, Apollo, Colour, Saturday Review, Connoisseur, Sphere, Illustrated London News, Graphic, Sporting and Dramatic, Morning Post, Evening News, etc. Publications: Illustrated biographical articles in Studio (1932), Apollo (1932-33), Colour (1932), Saturday Review (1932); illustrations to Tschiffeley's Tale of Two Horses; Chillon's Lord of the Jungle; C.T. Stoneham's Game, Track and Rifle, etc., etc. Address:14, Lancaster Road, Wimbledon Common, S.W.19. Club: Savage. Signs work: "Anton Lock", and see Appendix.

    The appendix illustrates his signature which is "Lock" not "Anton Lock".

    Bolt Court was the site of the London County Council School of Photoengraving and Lithography, to give it its full name.

  5. Andrew,

    Thanks for this additional information and taking the time to type it up. Most helpful. Looks like I shall have to be investing in yet another reference book.

  6. I was interested in David Kidd's comment. Anton Lock was my mother's uncle. She was his sister Alma's daughter. David's mother must have been his other sister. I have been trying to research the family history. I have one of his illustrated books, but would like to purchase a children's book if antone knows how to get them?

  7. I have a copy of Ruskin's Seven Lamps of Architecture which is signed by Anton Lock with a little drawing of a horse. Presumably the book belonged to him. I've owned it for many years, possibly 30 which would fit in with the time of Anton's death.

  8. Hi Steve

    Some great research on Lock. I have a small wood engraving of a bearded old man I bought on the Portobello Rd in the early eighties. I wonder if he is related to the wood engraver Helen Lock. I am going to re-do my post about her on my own blog, Modern Printmakers.


  9. I have two pencil and ink sketches of a pirate by Lock I believe they could be illustrations from Carrion Island 1919 does anyone have a copy?



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