New Zealand born Harry Rountree settled in London in 1901, and developed a perfect style for illustration, of flat blocks of colour surrounded by thick outlines. Specialising in animal subjects, he illustrated many books, contributed widely to periodicals and designed posters. The son of a banker, Harry Rountree was born in Auckland, New Zealand. He was educated at the city’s Queen’s College, and began work as a lithographer in a commercial studio, designing labels for jam jars and other products. In 1901, he migrated to London and studied under Percival Gaskell at the Regent Street Polytechnic. The style that he evolved there developed fin-de-siècle elements for comic ends, and his use of blocks of flat colour surrounded by thick jagged lines was found to be equally suitable for small-scale illustrations and large posters.
He began to contribute to such periodicals as the Humorist, Playtime and Punch from 1903 he collaborated with the editor of Little Folks on a very successful series of books. Specialising in animals, he illustrated several classics of children’s literature including Uncle Remus (1906) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1908). During the First World War, he served as a captain in the Royal Engineers. His later work included contributions to the Radio Times during the 1930s. A member of the Savage Club and a one-time President of the London Sketch Club (1914-15), he was later forgotten and die in poverty in St Ives, Cornwall on 26 December 1950.
His work is represented in the collections of Auckland Art Gallery.