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Ski Art: Adrian Allinson (1890-1959)



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Ski Art: Adrian Allinson (1890-1959)

By E. John B. Allen

Adrian Allinson’s woodcut of a speeding skier first appeared in Der Winter, the publication of the German Ski Association, in 1928. Oddly, because he was a well-known mountaineer and skier, it is his only known image of skiing. The woodcut certainly impresses with its depiction of action and speed.

Allinson had begun following his father into medicine but switched to the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Graduating in 1910, he promptly left for Paris and Munich. His paintings, many pastoral scenes, became well-known before the Great War. His most prized was a 1915-16 interior depiction of the Café Royal.

As one of a group of artists who were conscientious objector during the Great War, he was often hounded by Londoners. He joined the Bloomsbury Group, a liberal and loose-living set of artists and writers. Besides the many landscapes, he did opera sets, and his series for London Transport and the Imperial Marketing Board are among his best-known works. He has left an account of his artistic life in manuscript form, held in the archives of the McFarlin Library of the University of Tulsa.

A lifelong skier, Allinson was a member of the Kandahar Club, captained the British University Ski Club downhill team, and came second in the 1925 Bernese Oberland Challenge Shield, beating such luminaries as Barry Caulfeild. In the first Inferno at Mürren, in 1928, he finished fourth. Teamed with Arnold Lunn, he won the first Scaramanga Challenge Cup, in which skiers are roped together in pairs as if crossing a glacier. Lunn said that Allinson only stopped racing when he and Lunn were tied for first place two years in a row in the Scaramanga.

It is not often you can say more about the skiing of an artist than the actual art, but Allinson knew what he cut in the wood—it typified Schrei der Zeit, the cry of the times: speed. 


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