Category Archives: Illustrators

Remarks and info about artists

Einar Nerman

Swedish matchbox illustrated by Einar Nerman

In Sweden the commonly found matchboxes carry an illustration by the hand of one of its finest illustrators: Einar Nerman (1888-1983). Nerman was very productive during his long life. He studied art in Stockholm and later also worked and lived in Paris, London and New York. He painted, designed costumes and sets for ballet, and

A ballet scene for which Nerman designed the costumes and the set
A scene from “Les vierges folles” (1920), from Les Ballets suédois. Costumes and set by Einar Nerman. Photo copyright the Dansmuseet, Stockholm. Source: Marc Arthur, Performa Magazine.

he illustrated magazines and books, amongst others for the works of his communist brother.  It is said that he also composed music and set the poems of his brother to songs. We haven’t yet found such songs.

Just married: Einar Nerman and his wife Kajsa in 1916
Just married: Einar Nerman and his wife Kajsa, during the Christmas season in 1916. (source: Swedish Wikipedia)

His short biography is on Wikipedia, but you will find much more about his work on Willy or Won’t He. Other delightful work is reproduced by 50 Watt, especially his fairy tale illustrations. Nerman was also a master caricaturist: have a look on the Drawger website.

Luckily for us Nerman started in  1913 to illustrate  sheet music covers for many years, mostly for Ernst Rolfs Musikförlags, but also for other publishers such as A.B. Skandinaviska, Elkan & Schildknecht, and Nordiska Musikförlaget.


No doubt: Swedish design at its best!

Marcel·lí Porta

Babilonia, foxtrot by J. Demón (Editions Salabert, Paris, 1928)
Babilonia, foxtrot by J. Demón (Editions Salabert, Paris, 1928)

After many years our patience has been rewarded! With thanks to Santi Barjau’s blog we have been able to attribute the ‘MPortal’-monogram to a poster designer from Catalonia named Marcel·lí Porta Fernanda. He was born in Barcelona in 1900 or 1903. The joyous Mesopotamian cover for the Babilonia Foxtrot Song appears to be an early work (1928), as most of his other known creations are from the Thirties or later, such as his anti-fascist poster ‘Feixisme No!’ from 1938. Too little is known about the life and work of this artist, but he appears to have been actively involved in the Republican movement with his publication of posters, caricatures, cartoons and illustrations for satirical magazines.

Feixisme NO! Poster designed by Marcel·lí Porta in 1938 for the PSUC (Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia)

As many of his compatriots at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 he was forced to exile from his native country, never to come back. He stayed for some time in Montpellier and migrated to Mexico City in 1942. In his new country Porta would be active for many years illustrating books and magazines, worked as a painter and even designed murals. Marcel·lí Porta died without leaving family in Mexico City in 1959 (or 1979 according to other sources).

Portrait of Marcel·lí Porta
Marcel·lí Porta in a photograph published in 1988 in the Journal of the Orfeó Català de Mèxic, an organisation that had become his second home (source: El blog d’història del cartell de Santi Barjau).


InnoCenzi (monogram) Innocenzi

Carlo Innocenzi is a wonderful man. He died in Rome in 1962 but is still very much alive. Firstly, there are his art-deco covers which he designed for popular Italian songs: they keep you happy all day long.

Sheet music covers, illustrated by Carlo Innocenzi (ca 1928)
Sheet music covers by Carlo Innocenzi (ca 1928). View more at Images Musicales.

Secondly, as a trained violist and composer he launched several popular songs of his own, a.o. ‘Il primo amore‘ and ‘Prigoniero di un Sogno. Part of this success was due to the lyrics by Marcella Rivi, nom de plume of Sonia Pearlwing (1910-1981), the woman he promptly maried. In the late 1930s  he started working for Italian cinema and was hardly able to stop: he composed more than 150 songs and scores for the screen. 

Innocenzi_Carlo-portrait marcella-rivi-sonia-pearlswig

But in the third place, Innocenzi is still amongst us because in the Umbrian town where he was born in 1899, Monteleone di Spoleto, a street band named Corpo Bandistico Carlo Innocenzi brings his name and memory very much aLIVE.

Viva caro Carlo, viva!

Corpo Bandistico Carlo Innocenzi in Monteleone di Spoleto (2010)