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Cambridge “this immense & glorious work of fine intelligence…”

  • Author: LEE, Kerry (artist)
  • Publisher: Pictorial Maps Ltd, London
  • Engraver: Chromoworks Ltd
  • Date: c1948
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 68 x 55.5 cms / Image: 57.5 x 44 cms


Kerry Lee’s decorative pictorial map of the University & City of Cambridge published by his Pictorial Maps Ltd Company, c1947

About this piece:

Cambridge “this immense & glorious work of fine intelligence…”

Pictorial printed map on thick paper stock. Wide margins. A couple of short tears at sheet edges top & bottom centre, previously repaired & now expertly closed & conserved. Some very slight residual toning in surrounding areas and in a few scattered spots in blank margins only. In all an attractive & well-presented example.

British commercial illustrator and poster designer. Kerry Lee founded the Pictorial Maps Ltd Company based at Blandford Studios, No.71 Blandford Street, London W1 shortly after the end of World War II.

During the war years Lee had served as an aviation artist for the Air Intelligence branch of MI6, producing detailed diagrams and illustrations of German enemy aircraft to facilitate their recognition by Allied air crews and pilots on combat operations. His wartime work is described in our accompanying map blog.

During the late 1940s, Lee and his Pictorial Maps Company specialised in the design & publication of several highly detailed and decorative pictorial maps of historic British Cities, including London, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cambridge, Liverpool & Leeds. These were mostly published in association with the Travel Association of Great Britain & Northern Ireland as a part of a widespread marketing campaign to try & encourage foreign tourism & overseas tourist spending in Britain in the immediate post-war period, following the devastating impact of World War II upon the British economy.

The maps of Oxford and Cambridge follow an almost identical model & design, with a central city plan in bird’s eye profile filled with wonderful vignettes & humorous illustrations, and a surrounding border decorated with coats of arms (here of the principal Cambridge Colleges) & with vignettes illustrating important events and an array of literary & historical figures associated with each of the cities.

Looking from the famous “Backs”, with Thackeray, Byron and Chaucer in the foreground, the view of Cambridge extends as far as Magdalen College on the far left to the Fitzwilliam Museum on the far right and to Jesus, Emmanuel , Downing Colleges & the Scott Polar Research Centre at the very top of the image.

The bearded & moustachioed figure of Kerry Lee himself, clad in green tunic, can be discerned in the lower right  corner of the map, his name inscribed on a paper scroll and his trusty dog Jim, as ever, close by his side.

These amusing & almost hidden self portraits are another of the eccentric & idiosyncratic charms of Lee’s map & poster output during this immensely productive & creative post-war period. By the early 1950s he was a well-established & much sought-after figure in British commercial poster art & design.

He worked extensively for the renowned Carlisle biscuit maker, Carr’s, producing both promotional poster designs as well as engaging & colourful artwork for their tins. He also designed an attractive & uncommon series of pictorial poster maps for the London Midland & Southern branch of British Railways in the early 1950’s vividly portraying the cityscapes & skylines of Bedford, Norwich, Nottingham, Carlisle, Londonderry & Dublin.

Lee would also design and produce a second equally attractive poster of Cambridge & its Colleges for the Eastern Region of British Railways in 1957.