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George Harrison – Original Painting For All Things Must Pass Poster (The Beatles)

Tom Wilkes original watercolor painting for a poster to be included in George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass triple album.  In 1970 Harrison hired legendary art director and illustrator Wilkes to design the package for his debut solo album (which eventually was released in an elaborate hinged box of Wilkes’ design.)  Grammy winning designer Wilkes had been art director for the Monterey Pop Festival, and designed album covers for the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin, The Beatles and many others.

For All Things Must Pass, Wilkes (In the letter to Harrison illustrated here) envisioned a box with a black and white photograph of Harrison, which when opened would have “an explosion of color—(this) poster is a surrealistic fantasy done in an East Indian style; very stylized with the accent on detail and the delicate execution of the watercolor…An integration of color photographs and a piece of fine art.” Wilkes noted he’d already spent over 100 hours painting the poster offered here.

Wilkes’s large, meticulously rendered and incredibly detailed painting was to include three color photographs of Harrison (to be stripped in by the printer.)  The top photograph showed Harrison playing guitar in his Friar Park mansion, the middle photo was a profile shot of George, and the lower photograph showed Harrison illuminated by candle-light, in a cavern below the home.   Wilkes drew in pencil portraits of Harrison in the top and bottom white areas, indicating to the printer how to position the photographs.

According to Bruce Spizer’s book “The Beatles Solo on Apple Records” (see scan) Harrison had concerns about having his photograph in the sky, floating above everything else, and about the blonde maiden, meant to represent his wife Patti.  When Wilkes sensed Harrison was uncomfortable with the image, he suggested that despite the work he’d put into it, they abandon it and just go with a simple color photo of George standing by a window (which eventually came with the album.)

Spizer’s book notes there were only five printer’s proofs of the poster made, and the photographs to be used with the painting were later used for the “My Sweet Lord” and “What is Life” picture sleeves.  This artwork was largely unknown until the publication of Spizer’s book, and Wilkes’ publication of the original artwork as a signed limited edition print, which he sold to raise funds for World Peace.

The original painting, on fine art paper, measures 16 ½” x 23 ½”, and is in perfect condition.  The painting is mounted on a larger art board, signed in pencil just below the bottom “A Gift For My Brother/Tom Wilkes.”  The backing board, with a few easily matted out minor spots, is housed in a custom aluminum frame, measuring 25 ½” x 35 ¾”.  Presently there is no glass, but we can arrange to have it glazed should the buyer wish.  A beautiful museum quality collectible.

 

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