Vera Willoughby

Vera Willoughby (1870–1939) was a Hungarian-born British illustrator, painter, and poster artist. Under the name Vera Petrovna, she also created designs and illustrations of ballet dancers.

Vera Willoughby
Died1939 (aged 6869)
EducationSlade School of Art
Known forPoster art, painting, book illustration
Spouse(s)Louis Willoughby


Willoughby was born in Hungary and educated in London at the Slade School of Fine Art.[1] At the Slade she developed a style with both Cubist and Art Deco elements, which led to a number of poster commissions.[2]

Willoughby designed posters for the London Underground from 1928 to 1935.[2][3][4] She made illustrations for a gift edition of The Odes of Horace,[5] added "curiously stylised illustrations" for a 1929 edition of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen,[6] "decorated" a collection of 17th-century love poems,[7] and contributed illustrations for ten books published by Peter Llewelyn Davies, among her many published works.[8] Beginning in 1915, she created cover designs for the catalogues and other publications of specialty bookseller and dance scholar Cyril W. Beaumont,[9] sometimes under the name "Vera Petrovna".[10][11][12] She also created wooden souvenir figures depicting dancers Léonide Massine and Lubov Tchernicheva of the Ballets Russes.[13][14]

Willoughby published Vision of Greece, an illustrated record of her travels in Greece in 1925.[1] "It is a fully sufficient book, even if we only consider its text," commented one reviewer, "but Mrs. Willoughby is one of the most masterly of modern painters, and her book is enormously more attractive by reason of her illustrations."[15]

Personal life

Vera Willoughby's husband was English film actor Louis Willoughby (1876–1968); they divorced. Their daughter Althea Willoughby (1904–1982) was also an illustrator and designer. During World War I, she lived with young signal officer Peter Llewelyn Davies.[16] Vera Willoughby died in 1939, aged 69 years. Original works by Willoughby are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum[13] and the London Transport Museum.[17]


  1. Willoughby, Vera (1925). "A Vision of Greece". Philip Allan. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  2. David Bownes (2018). Poster Girls. london transport museum. ISBN 978 1 871829 28 0.
  3. "People". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  4. Rose, Peter (1994). "Disadvantaged or timid?". RSA Journal. 142 (5450): 70. ISSN 0958-0433. JSTOR 41376491.
  5. "Christmas Books". The Observer. 28 November 1926. p. 8. Retrieved 16 April 2019 via
  6. Gilson, David, "Later Publishing History, with Illustrations" in Janet Todd, ed., Jane Austen in Context (Cambridge University Press 2005): 151, 153. ISBN 9780521826440
  7. Fisk, Earl E. (1932). Lovely Laughter. An Anthology of Seventeenth Century Love Lyrics. Cassell.
  8. Farquhar, George; Gosse, Edmund; Willoughby, -1939, Véra (1926). The recruiting officer : a comedy : as it was acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by Her Majesty's servants, anno 1706. London : Peter Davies.
  9. Walker, Kathrine Sorley (2002). "Cyril W. Beaumont: Bookseller, Publisher, and Writer on Dance Part One". Dance Chronicle. 25 (1): 51–94. doi:10.1081/DNC-120003119. ISSN 0147-2526. JSTOR 1568178.
  10. "The Case of Delicacy | Willoughby, Vera | V&A Search the Collections". V and A Collections. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  11. Petrovna, Vera; Tchernicheva, Lubov (1921). The art of Lubov Tchernicheva. London : C.W. Beaumont.
  12. Walker, Kathrine Sorley (2003). "Cyril W. Beaumont: A Bibliography". Dance Chronicle. 26 (1): 85–99. ISSN 0147-2526. JSTOR 1568113.
  13. "Wooden figure showing Lubov Tchernicheva | Willoughby, Vera | V&A Search the Collections". V and A Collections. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  14. Holland, Peter (31 October 2018). Shakespeare Survey 71: Volume 71: Re-Creating Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108584876.
  15. ""Immortal Greece"". The Observer. 8 November 1925. p. 6. Retrieved 16 April 2019 via
  16. Dudgeon, Piers (12 July 2011). Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781453218211.
  17. Willoughby, Vera (1932). "Chestnut Sunday Bushy Park". London Transport Museum Shop. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
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