Gordon Crosby (1885-1943)

Frederick Gordon Crosby (1885 – August 1943) was an English automotive illustrator and landscape painter of the Scottish highlands and Cornwall. He worked for the magazine Autocar for most of his life. Crosby attended Christ’s Hospital (Bluecoat) school, just outside London. He married Marjory Dickenson, youngest of seven, in 1913. His first son Peter was born in 1914 and his second son Michael in 1920. Crosby had no formal training as an artist, although he did attend life classes at art school some time after the start of his professional career. In 1908 he started his career as a draughtsman in The Daimler Motor Company’s drawing office. At this time he moved into Arthur Ludlow Clayton’s home in Coventry. This was an environment full of young men, all wildly enthusiastic about the cars of the day. In 1908, Crosby at the age of 23, moved from Daimler to Autocar. It was at Autocar, and at Clayton’s house, that Crosby met and maintained a lifelong friendship with Sammy Davis and Monty Tombs. Crosby, as illustrator, and Tombs and sometimes Davis, as writer, were responsible for producing one of Autocar’s humorous stalwarts: "Keeping up appearances". After some 30 years of travelling and working to press deadlines, the work began to take its toll on Crosby. However, during the war, his spirits seemed to rally and he produced some of his best works of battles both in the air and at sea. 

Crosby painted some very fine Landscapes, for example the oil paintings he did in 1918-1919 of the Scottish Highlands. At least two works are known to exist. One is in a private collection. The others whereabouts are currently unknown. Crosby exhibited three times at the Royal Academy, the first in 1916 with his painting of Flt. Lt. Reggie Warneford shooting down an L37 over Ghent. This was both the first German zeppelin to be shot down by British aircraft, and the first aeronautical picture ever hung in the Royal Academy. His second RA exhibit was in 1917 and was the Sand Dunes of Lelant, Cornwall. His third RA exhibit in 1921 was our painting, Mullion Cove. His later works were perhaps more for his own pleasure and his last two RA exhibits were both coastal scenes from Cornwall, suggesting Crosby was spending time in the west country and may have had some connection with the Newlyn Art School there.