Edward McKnight Kauffer by Howard Coster, 1927.
National Portrait Gallery. Licenced under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0

E. McKnight Kauffer


E. McKnight Kauffer (1890–1954) – christened Edward Kauffer, he took the middle name McKnight in tribute to Professor Joseph McKnight (University of Utah) who sponsored him to study in Paris – was an American artist who became renowned for his graphic designs, book illustrations and posters. He lived from 1914 to 1940 in England, gaining fame for his London Underground posters; he also illustrated books and book covers. On his return to New York in 1940, his chief client was American Airlines. His wife Marion Dorn was also a successful designer. See Mark Haworth-Booth, E. McKnight Kauffer: A Designer and His Public (1979); The Poster King: E. McKnight Kauffer (Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 2011).

Asked in 1949 to contribute to a ‘profile’ of Kauffer, TSE wrote:

I think it was at the end, or shortly after the end of the first World War that I met McKnight Kauffer, who was already, I think, better known and remarked among the younger artists than I was amongst the men of letters. He was in appearance very much the same figure that he is to-day: tall, slender and elegantly dressed, and wearing whatever he wore with a grace that would make the best of the best efforts of the best tailor. (I cannot venture to say much about his appearance, because there is said to be a facial resemblance between Kauffer and myself – at any rate, when I have asked for him at the building in which he lives, several successive porters have taken for granted that I was his brother.)