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Design for an inn sign

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, oil and bodycolour on Whatman paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case EDUC, shelf 10D

Today signboards are rarely found hanging anywhere other than outside public houses, but in the 18th century all kinds of businesses displayed them. In order to catch the notice of the approaching customer the graphics had to be bold, colourful and immediately understood. Subtlety had no place in this kind of graphic communication and there can be little doubt that this design was intended to advertise The Crown Inn. This is very much a working drawing. It includes preliminary pencil sketches of three different crowns, one placed upon a cushion. The sheet has also been ‘squared up’ so that the design can be reproduced easily on the larger wooden signboard. Sign-painting was a recognised occupation and the V&A has 35 further designs by the same anonymous hand.

Physical description

Drawing in oil, bodycolour and pencil on paper showing a gold crown with fleur de lys, gems, ermine and red fabric. Also three preliminary pencil sketches. The paper has been squared in pencil for enlargement.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Pencil, oil and bodycolour on Whatman paper

Marks and inscriptions

paper watermarked with a fleur de lys


Height: 35.5 cm, Width: 25.5 cm

Descriptive line

Design drawing for an inn sign showing a gold crown and three preliminary pencil sketches. Oil, bodycolour and pencil on paper. Anonymous, British, about 1750

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Celina Fox, 'London Trade Signs' the catalogue of an exhibtion at the Cadogan Gallery, London, 5-16 November 1985.


Bodycolour; Paper; Pencil; Oil



Subjects depicted

Inns; Crown; Public houses; Gems; Advertising; Fur; Graphic design


Advertising; Drinking; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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