Skip navigation
Sainsbury Archive Logo

Leonard Beaumont

Designer; Sainsbury's contractor: Designer

Born in Sheffield in 1891, in 1912 Beaumont was awarded a West Riding of Yorkshire Scholarship which allowed him to enrol full-time at the Sheffield Technical School of Art. His artistic career was interrupted by the Great War, when he was posted to the East Indies. After the War, he returned to work in the art department of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. In 1935, he began to take etching seriously, using mostly copper plates to produce a total of 44 drypoints and etchings within six years. In one strand of his work, he was committed to capturing images of landscape and village life, which he felt were under threat from urbanisation. In another strand, he produced work inspired by steel production and industrialisation in Sheffield. Beaumont was an atheist and communist sympathiser, and his political and social beliefs permeated his work. In 1927, Beaumont installed a printing press in his home. Between 1929 and 1933, many of Beaumont's prints from trips to Europe (namely Swiss cities and the Black Forest) were selected for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibitions in London. In 1929, Beaumont began to experiment with linocut printmaking, and by 1931 he was working exclusively with linocut blocks. He produced publicity material for the Sheffield engineering and steel manufacturing firm Edgar Allen & Company, c.1936. He also produced books, and illustrated books, most notably by commission from Nonesuch Press. In 1936 he took up a post as Art Director for United Artists Film Distributors, where his job was to redesign American film posters for a British audience. From 1938, Beaumont began working for advertising agency Mather & Crowther, where he lead the design unit. Throughout World War Two, he became involved with war propaganda for the British Government (especially for the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Food and the General Post Office), becoming a leading figure in poster design.

From August 1950, Beaumont became the first in-house Design Consultant for Sainsbury's. His role here was to establish 'a uniformed corporate identity, a simple design that reflected the company's reputation for quality and cleanliness'. Beaumont aimed to implement a cohesive brand design, covering everything from in-store signage and shop fascias, to product packaging. Shop-fronts featured Beaumont's design, with the name in gold in Trajan typeface. In-store, Beaumont used Venus typeface, together with stylised graphics and a muted colour scheme, to create a clean fresh image in line with the new, modern self-service shopping. With regards to packaging, Beaumont favoured the purity of white with clear, consistent graphics.

In around 1964, Beaumont retired, feeling that the growing workload could not satisfactorily be met by a consultant, and recommending that Sainsbury's set up an international design unit.

After his retirement, Beaumont travelled and took up photography. Following the death of his wife in 1981, in 1983 he moved into a care home in Yorkshire. The 1980s saw a resurgent interest in Beaumont's work, with several exhibitions of his prints and other work. He died on 11th December 1986.




fl. 1950-1962