Gnomes have appeared in many art forms over the last 150 years. In the late nineteenth century they were used on posters, leaflets, books, postcards and advertising materials of all types and it was common to find gnomes advertising anything from soap and beer to cutlery and sewing machines and even laxatives. They were cheerful characters offended no one and were appealing to adults and children alike.
So who are the gnome artists?
Here are some of our favourite animators, artists and story tellers from the past and present.
- Jenny Nyström (1854 -1946) was a prolific painter and was best known for her Christmas artwork. She represented her artwork in the image of a gnome-like character, the julttomte, from Swedish folklore. Her postcards are beautiful.
- Rien Poortvliet (1932-1995) partnered with Wil Huygen to create their famous 'Gnomes' book, a fictional guide book that documents their characteristics, behaviours and habitats.
- The Maresch ceramic factory used the gnome to decorate a great deal of tableware and tobacco-related containers. The Villeroy Boch factory in Mettlach Germany was also well known for its beer steins beautifully decorated with gnomes, many of which were painted by Heinrich Schlitt, one of their artists. Royal Doulton in England produced their ‘series ware’ and designer Charles Noke decorated the sets with scenes featuring gnomes. The Gnome series became known as ‘Munchkins’ in the USA.
- Sir Peter Blake designed one of the most iconic pop art images for the Beatles album ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’. There are many people on the album cover including Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, but look closely and you will see there is also a gnome in the picture.
- Kiri Østergaard Leonard is an award winning fantasy artist and her artwork reflects Nordic myth, folklore and fairy tales. She is an accomplished storyteller and we love her Sleeping Gnome.
- A mystery street artist has been "gnoming around" claiming their artwork is better than Banksy. Gnome street art pieces have been randomly appearing around Skegness, a British seaside resort. They are cheeky.
- Collecting gnomes has also been a passion for many people across the world. These collections raise from the exquisitely small to the fabulously large. The Lamport Hall and Friar Park gnomes in England are perhaps among the most famous, but many people across the world love their gnomes and have, in several instances gathered significant collections of gnomes and gnome ephemera.