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Tony Cattaneo, 'The Window'

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Image of Tony Cattaneo, 'The Window'
  • Image of Tony Cattaneo, 'The Window'
  • Image of Tony Cattaneo, 'The Window'
  • Image of Tony Cattaneo, 'The Window'
  • Image of Tony Cattaneo, 'The Window'

Tony Cattaneo, Oil on Canvas, 'The Window' (1927- 2003)

Tony Cattaneo was the creator of Typhoo gnu, the Country Life butter men and the Tetley tea folk (1927-2003)

The son of Italian immigrant parents, Cattaneo was born and raised near London's Leicester Square, and remained a child of Soho all his life, revelling in its ethnic vibrancy.

During time spent living in Munich, he toured the city's galleries, viewing the work of Otto Dix, Franz Marc and Hieronymous Bosch. He studied fine art in the evenings and at weekends at Kingston College.

Cattaneo joined the cinema advertising company Pearl and Dean in 1957, where he first encountered his business partner to be, Wyatt. The pair met again in 1962 at the Richard Williams animation studio and, in 1965, they created their business partnership. After initially surfing the wave that heralded the introduction of television advertising, Wyatt Cattaneo lasted for more than 30 years - several lifetimes in the advertising world. The business was established above a gentlemen's outfitters on the Charing Cross Road, opposite the now-defunct Imperia restaurant, where Cattaneo would lunch daily and banter with the Italian staff.

But his amiable, boisterous manner belied a serious and tenaciously pursued ambition. Within months, the soft-spoken claim of the modest, bowler-hatted Fred The Flour Grader, that "graded grains make finer flour", had propelled his product to brand leadership, and its creators - Wyatt Cattaneo and the advertising agency Geers Gross - to enduring success.

Wyatt Cattaneo went on to produce high-profile work for Golden Wonder, Dunlop, Tetleys, Bird's Eye and many other major companies. The house style was never flashy or self-consciously clever. Cattaneo's creations - such as the Typhoo gnu, the Country Life butter men and the Tetley tea folk - were almost childishly simple in both idea and execution, but that simplicity invariably possessed a warmth, humour and natural appeal denied by more complex or technically sophisticated creations.

It meant the work stood the sort of repetition needed to build huge, well-loved and long-lasting brands. Industry was not slow to take note and, by the early 1980s, animation was widely regarded as one of the most powerful and cost-effective of advertising tools.

As gifted on paper and canvas as he was on the animation cel, Cattaneo had an intuitive artistic talent, and wielded it without vanity or pretension. He was generous with his time, money and affection.

Latterly, he taught painting to mature students at his home in south west London, cutting an endearing figure in braces and hat, paint brush in one hand, half-smoked cigar in the other.

Title; The Window
Date; Mid to late 20thC
Provenance; London
Artist; Tony Cattaneo, signed bottom right and Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1999 label, verso.
Frame; 37 1/4 x 27 inches
Painting; 29 1/2 x 19 3/4
Medium; Oil on Canvas
Condition; 2 very small, invisible, historical repairs.