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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fake

My friend and fellow Searle enthusiast Uli Meyer has spotted a poor Searle copy coming up for auction at Bonhams The established auction houses never believe us when we point out forgeries. 'Who are you to comment' one well known small gallery near the British Museum once snootily told me when I pointed out they were selling a Searle copy. Our opinions just weren't accepted as we weren't qualified to comment in their estimation. I can see they might take the challenge as an affront to their informed expertise. I used to forward links to Ronald and he would chase them up himself but now he's gone there's no one to protect the casual buyer. Uli writes:

'The image on the right is a terrible tracing of a drawing by Ronald Searle, on the left. Incredibly this embarrassing, awful fake is currently up for auction at the famous auction house Bonhams. I made them aware that the drawing is a fake and a terrible one at that and sent them the image of the original. The 'expert' I spoke to still isn't sure and incredibly, it is still up for sale. How can a reputable auction house employ so called experts that can't tell that this atrocity is not a drawing by one of the most influential graphic artists of the 20th century. It boggles my mind.'



There appears to be an amateur forger in the UK who intermittently slips poor copies onto the market- always at a different auctioneers. I've tackled this issue before where the eBay seller was challenged in the comments section and justifies the sale with the disclaimer 'after Ronald Searle'. Read it here

Monday, August 24, 2015

Searle exhibition 2015

Searle's hometown Cambridge is finally celebrating their famous son. From the Fitzwilliam museum website:

Ronald Searle: ‘Obsessed with drawing’

Born in Cambridge, Searle is best known as the inventor of the fictional girls’ school St. Trinian’s (1948) and for his collaborations on Geoffrey Willans’ Molesworth series (1953- 58). However, as this exhibition shows, he had a long and productive career across a range of different genres. Searle worked as a war artist, but also made drawings for book and magazine illustration, travel reportage, theatre, film, medals and political caricature. Fuelled by visits to the Fitzwilliam Museum during his formative years, he had keen sense of his own place in the history of caricature - a selection of work by the caricaturists he most admired will be on display in a complementary exhibition in the Charrington Print Room (16).
This exhibition is drawn from a recent gift of the artist’s work, generously presented to the Museum by his children in 2014.
An associated exhibition Coming Home: Ronald Searle and Cambridge School of Art, curated by Professor Martin Salisbury, will run concurrently at Anglia Ruskin University's Ruskin Galleryfrom 13 October - 19 November.
Image: Ronald Searle (1920-2011), Molesworth, 1999 (detail) © The Estate of Ronald Searle
Tue 13 October 2015 to Sun 31 January 2016

Thanks to Anita O'Brien at London's Cartoon Museum

Lantern

An interesting find on the Instagram account of user Ben Hausmann-Prior. Three Searle originals. He tells me 'They where originally commissioned for a carnival lantern in Basel Switzerland but were later cropped to fit frame size.'





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Life's a beach

Before the summer ends let's visit Brighton with Searle and Holiday magazine. . .





The original cropped up on eBay a few years back but it had some tear damage



I've posted these wonderful, full colour images from 'Lilliput' magazine (1947) before but they're worth looking at in this context.





This Punch cover is a decade later 14th August 1957



This was a short article in 'Holiday' magazine on Russian resort Yalta


 The Yalta image above is echoed in Searle's depiction of American beach scenes such as this Florida beach again for 'Holiday' magazine.


Searle's Hawaii beach scenes are incredible


Some just go to the beach to get away from it all


Monday, August 10, 2015

'Searle's America' update

My publisher Fantagraphics has the final cover art for the book listed on their site. It'll be released late November but pre-order the book there or Amazon.

'This lushly-produced book compiles drawings and illustrations by legendary British illustrator Ronald Searle have been virtually unseen since their original publication in the 1960s. During this golden age of illustrative reportage, Ronald Searle—an influence on historic figures as wide-ranging as Matt Groening, Pat Oliphant, and John Lennon—was sent by American magazines such as Holiday and LIFE to far-flung and exotic locations. He would report back with a raft of drawings detailing his observations and experience in his trademark satirical and matchlessly virtuosic style.

Dispatched to America in the early ’60s, Searle spent several years covering everything from sports to politics, from spreads on Palm Springs and Las Vegas to the Presidential contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and TV Guide, capturing the essence of the American experience as seen through the eyes of a caustic Englishman. Edited by the passionate Searle scholar Matt Jones, whose Perpetua: Ronald Searle Tribute website has become the foremost resource for Searle fans, the book also features a running commentary by Searle himself (as well as his wife Kaye Webb), including the journal he kept during the JFK- Nixon election, providing historical context to his assignments, recounting funny anecdotes, and making insightful observations about the drawings. This deluxe coffee-table book will be the most lavish treatment of Searle’s work that U.S. audiences have ever seen.'

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Court Drawing

Searle's multi-faceted career saw him master several disciplines: caricatures for TV Guide magazine, travel reportage for Holiday magazine, animated film titles, book illustration, theatre design, war artist, political cartooning and, perhaps less known, court trial artist. The most high profile case he covered was, of course, the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961. Searle was the sole draughtsman amongst a throng of photographers which is exactly why the magazine wanted his unique perspective. This chapter of Searle's career deserves a post of its own but here are a few of the drawings he made in Jerusalem.





Commissioning Searle to cover the Eichmann trial may well have occurred to Life's editor after an earlier assignment the artist had completed for the magazine.  In 1957 Searle had been dispatched by Life to cover the trial of the notorious John Bodkin Adams case. He was a doctor accused of over prescribing narcotics to an elderly patient in whose will he was named as a beneficiary. This masterful drawing appeared as a double-page spread in the 22 April, 1957 issue of Life magazine along with the following portraits of the defense and prosecution lawyers and key witnesses.
The courtroom drawing above is, I would say, comparable to Searle's tour de force depiction of Winston Churchill's last speech in the House of Commons, again for Life magazine (4th April, 1955).
'The accused'







The incredible thing about these drawings is they were all done from memory. Sketching was not permitted in British courts. He got around this by surreptitiously drawing on tiny note paper in his lap & taking multiple toilet breaks where he would rapidly draw from his notes and what he could memorise! With only a week's deadline to collate the necessary research the Old Bailey assignment turned out to be much effort for little remuneration, 'at least the Eichmann trial went on for months!' Searle joked.
Courtesy of the Chris Beetles Gallery here are some of those notes and sketches made in the court room.






In the following article Searle reveals his process behind a cartoon version of the Old Bailey.






Perhaps inspired by Life magazine a French publication 'Marseille magazine' commissioned Searle to illustrate a similarly sensational trial that gripped France in 1963, that of the 'gang de p├ętanques' in Marseille.
To see more of the 'Marseilles' court drawings (plus the Churchill speech picture) check out this post 

Sketch of the 'Fuchs trial' 1950 presided over by Lord Goddard.
 Lord Goddard 1956


Illustration of a British Judge for a 1962 print advertisement for Beetle Dough Molding Compound


 From 'Merry England'