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Elephant on a raft

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thompson, G. H. (artist)
    Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on card

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ernest Nister (1842-1909) began his publishing career in 1885 when he acquired a lithographic workshop in Nürnberg and printed books for London publishers. In 1888 he became a publisher in his own right with offices at 24 St. Bride Street, London. He appointed the writer and editor, Robert Ellice Mack, as director.

Nister specialised in high quality colour printing for children in the last quarter of the 19th century. Movable books with various mechanisms became his speciality after 1890 (when be published his first stand-up book) but he also produced numerous picture books, annuals, poetry, nursery rhymes, calendars and greetings cards. He worked with a core of writers, including Clifton Bingham and Robert Ellice Mack, and illustrators, in particular Eveline Lance, Harriett M. Bennett, Edith A. Cubitt and Rosa Petherick.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing on stiff card depicting an elephant on a raft, leaving an island. On the left of the drawing in the background is a sinking sailing ship on its side; on the right in the background is the island. The elephant wears blue trousers and a red and white striped shirt. The raft is laden with supplies, including a wooden barrel, blankets, a green vase and two rifles. Mounted on card.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca.1900 (made)


Thompson, G. H. (artist)
Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on card

Marks and inscriptions

Bookplate on verso reads: 'From the Library of Anne Renier and F.G. Renier'

Initialled by Anne Renier in ink on verso: 'AR'

Inscribed in blue crayon on verso: '12/12', 'XXIX', '8945' and '82'

Initialled by the artist in bottom left corner: 'GHT'

Ink stamp on verso reads: 'Ernest Nister / Order No. 41159 / 2' [number crossed through with pencil]

Inscribed in ink on verso: 'G H Thompson'


Height: 392 mm mount, Width: 318 mm mount

Object history note

Drawn by G. H. Thompson ca. 1900 for Ernest Nister. Bequeathed to the V&A in 1970 by Anne Renier and Fernand G. Renier as part of the Renier Collection.

Descriptive line

Watercolour drawing by G. H. Thompson, ca. 1900; produced for Ernest Nister.


Watercolour; Card



Subjects depicted

Sea-shores; Sailing ships; Islands; Shirts; Beaches; Barrels (containers); The Sea; Luggage; Escape; Rafts; Blankets (coverings); Anthropomorphic; Rifles (long guns); Belts (costume accessories); Elephants; Trousers; Rifles (artillery)


Drawings; Illustration; Books; National Art Library

Production Type



National Art Library

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