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The Signalman

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1945 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Brandt, Rolf, born 1906 - died 1986 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Graphite on white paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the artist's daughter, Susan Brandt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 128, box B

Although he trained as an actor, Rolf Brandt enjoyed drawing and making collages. In his native Germany he developed an interest in Dada and Surrealism and in Bauhaus artists such as Paul Klee. He moved to London from Hamburg in the early 1930s with his brother Bill (1904–83), who became famous as a photographer. His drawings for illustration were first published in the 1940s and he became known for his haunting, Surrealistic style and delicate line.

This drawing for a short story by Charles Dickens was one of a number made for an anthology of weird, romantic, if sometimes horrific stories published under the title Come Not Lucifer in 1945. The peculiar qualities of this image are highly individual while at the same time reflecting the horrors that had been part of many people’s lives during the Second World War.

Physical description

The entrance to a deep tunnel, with rail tracks receding into darkness. A bearded man (lower left of picture) facing three-quarters inward into picture plane, gazing up at a headless, ghost-like figure floating out of the tunnel toward him. The ghost figure has a multi-layered left arm and his right clutches a parcel. Old paste marks in all coners on back of drawing and surface of support card. The paper is thin and may be Japanese, slightly discoloured through age and pasted to a support sheet on the upper margin.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)


ca. 1945 (made)


Brandt, Rolf, born 1906 - died 1986 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Graphite on white paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Dickens The Signalman'
Inscribed in pencil on lower left

'...and ran towards the figure calling "what's wrong? what has happened? Where/"'
Centre to right lower margin

Artist's monogram RB
Centre to right lower margin

Inscribed on the left margin

'Sim [followed by a square box] in 133 and [not clearly decipherable] publomondial.'
Inscribed on the right upper margin

'"Come Not Lucifer" 6. 8 6. 15 Brandt 8 219/10 A1. Susan'
Inscribed variously in pencil on the back of the support sheet


Height: 37.9 cm irregular, maximum, Width: 26 cm irregular, maximum, Height: 37.9 cm support sheet, Width: 28.6 cm support sheet

Object history note

The group of drawings E.547-549-2005 came directly from the artist's family. "The Signalman", a short story by Charles Dickens was included in the Romantic anthology of 'weird' tales 'Come Not Lucifer' edited anonymously but possibly by the publisher, John Westhouse, published in 1945 with illustrations by R.A.Brandt.

Descriptive line

Drawing by Rolf Brandt, illustration to 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens for the anthology 'Come Not Lucifer', United Kingdom, ca. 1945


Pencil; Paper



Subjects depicted

Nightmare; Railroad tunnel; Fear


Drawings; Illustration; Dickens

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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