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'The Obstacle Race'

  • 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, Lizzie Lawson, Harriett M. Bennett, Edith A. Cubitt and Rosa Petherick.

This illustration by G. H. Thompson was published as 'The Obstacle Race' in the 26th year of publication of Nister's Holiday Annual (no. 3922), edited by A. C. Playne and published in London by Ernest Nister and in New York by E.P. Dutton & Co., 1913.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing on stiff card depicting a group of animals jumping across a stream during an obstacle race. The stream has grassy banks on either side. On the bank in the foreground a fox and several rabbits watch the race. In the middle of the drawing a kangaroo (in running shorts and a pink and turquoise coloured shirt and cap) is ahead and in the midst of jumping the stream. A bear dressed in blue trousers, red waistcoat and blue and white shirt has landed in the stream. Behind the bear on the opposite bank a lion and tiger are just approaching the stream. 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', 'XXXII', '11103' and '70'

Signed by the artist in bottom left corner: 'G. H. Thompson'

Inscribed in pencil by Anne Renier on verso: 'Thompson'


Height: 378 mm Mount, Width: 319 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

Streams; Anthropomorphic; Kangaroos; Fox; Bears; Running; Competitions; Tiger (animal); Lions (animals); Brooks; River-banks; Caps (headgear); Races; Obstacle courses; Rabbits


Drawings; Illustration; Books; National Art Library

Production Type



National Art Library

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