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The art of uk motoring artists

Crosby Frederick T Gordon

Year working: 1885 - 1943

Gordon Crosby was probably Britain’s foremost motoring artist and his career spanned the important period from the early days up to the Second World War. Gordon Crosby was the staff artist with The Autocar having started with them in 1905 and was with them until his death at his own hand in 1943. He was a very versatile artist who did a variety of work from major oil paintings, sketches, posters, cartoons and technical illustrations. He assisted manufacturers such as MG and Jaguar with car styling plus bronzes, badges and trophies were made of his art. Gordon Crosby was the artist that covered motor races at both home and overseas, producing weekly illustrations for The Autocar. These were mainly charcoal or pencil but occasionally they were watercolours. Because of the publishing deadlines of The Autocar he rarely had time to use oils; these were reserved for longer studies and commissions. Gordon Crosby used watercolours and gouache for the many superb front cover designs for the magazine. These were advertising motor manufacturer’s products and mainly showed views of cars. The Autocar often featured his work and issued free prints of his work with the magazine. Besides the conventional motor racing scenes Gordon Crosby also painted a long series of caricatures of famous racing drivers for The Autocar. After his death, the Autocar printed and sold two folders of prints containing 24 of his paintings. These folders were entitled ‘The Endless Quest for Speed’ and ‘meteors of Road and track’. There was a major exhibition of his work in 1978 called "The Art of Gordon Crosby" to mark the launch of the book by Peter Garnier of the same name. There were 124 No pieces of art from "The Autocar" archive on display. The book is essential reading for anybody interested in the work and times of Crosby. This archive has been subsequently dispersed mainly by auction sales by Brooks (now Bonhams) which does mean that there are considerably more original works on the market. Gordon Crosby had two sons both accomplished artists and the eldest son Peter was starting to make a name for himself in motoring art before being killed flying in the Second World War. The younger son Michael emigrated in New Zealand soon after the war.

Further reference

The Art of Gordon Crosby by Peter Garnier published by Hamlyn 1978


Crosby at Brooklands with his son Peter standing behind.

Charles Rolls driving a car of his own manufacture on his way to winning the 1906 Isle of Man TT race. Here shown passing the broken-down Argyll.

Crosby with de Grineau sketching at the Isle of Man - May 1934

Crosby with his SS Jaguar car 1936

Crosby at Targa Florio helping Louis Charavel (Bugatti) back to the road

1912 French GP at Dieppe

Early French GP artwork

Autocar front cover June 1921

Autocar front cover June 1922

MG artwork for Autocar cover August 1931

Lagonda artwork

Poster for Brooklands 12hr race 1931

MG 18/100 Tigress on Brooklands banking

Caricature of Staniland

Painting of the cars leaving Buckingham Palance for the 1937 Jubilee

Front cover of the Garnier book about Crosby