Decorative yet economical, friezes were a significant part of nursery design from the late 19th century.

Children’s Toys was the result of John Hassall’s collaboration with illustrator Cecil Aldin on Art for the Nursery, which aimed to improve the appearance of children’s rooms. Their collaborative work was exhibited at the Fine Art Society’s 1900 exhibition ‘Pictures for Children’. John Hassall was an illustrator and designer who became one of the early 20th century’s most influential poster artists. He was commissioned to create these nursery friezes by Liberty, which reproduced them as lithographs to be fixed directly to the walls of children’s rooms. Hassall was also a regular contributor to publications including the Illustrated London News and The Sketch. He was best known for the poster Skegness is so Bracing (1908), which was imitated by generations of poster designers and became one of the most iconic posters in British history. His distinctive style, featuring flat colours enclosed by thick black lines, would prove well-suited to children’s art. He became known for illustrating nursery rhymes and fairy stories, his style lending itself naturally to nursery friezes.


Provenance: With the artist’s family until 1998; sold, Sotheby’s, Billingshirst, 1998 where acquired by Liss Fine Art; purchased by Miriam Schein, 1999.

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