Sunday, May 29, 2016

Orson Welles

In Simon Callow's third volume of his epic biography of Welles 'One Man Band' I found a Searle  caricature of Welles as Othello (and Peter Finch as Iago) for Punch magazine's theater review.

View many more Punch theatrical caricatures here

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Singapore exhibition

An exhibition of Ronald Searle's work surrounding his time as a POW in Singapore will be held at the Singapore School of Art & Design, opening June 26th.

More details here

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Misc. America

Here's one I didn't get in the book . . .

Bea Arthur as Maude' for TV Guide magazine

Drawing from the series 'Who Killed Hollywood Society?' for TV Guide

'Beauty Factory' 1991 for TV Guide

I tracked this down at the 11th hour but not the original drawing . . .

Mark Twain for HOLIDAY magazine

'Fremont Street, Las Vegas' is one of hundreds of images in the book. The Neon Museum shared this photo of a similar view from the same year Searle made his drawing (1960) - he may well have sat in the restaurant on the right of the photo to make his field notes.

 The original artwork for the British ed. of 'USA for Beginners' sold at auction recently. It's a beautiful iconic drawing - I don't know who bought it. This spectacular original Searle drawing sold at auction for a high $6250. 'Six Shooter' was originally published in Punch magazine and used as the cover for 'USA For Beginners' (Perpetua, 1959). The cowboy's face is very much like that of Mr. Punch the magazine's mascot and may have started out as a rejected cover design.

A remarkable series of love letters between Searle and American artist Ruth Cyril have appeared on eBay. They are very private and should be in the Searle archive in Hannover but they do offer a perspective on Searle's assignments in America tat I wish I had for the book. There's a more personal angle on the JFK/Nixon campaign tour and some frank thoughts on the Eichmann trial Searle attended in Jerusalem (see previous post on 'Eichmann').

For more on America see also 'FLORIDA'

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


In 1961 Searle was sent on an assignment for Life magazine to cover the trial of Gestapo chief Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Searle was the sole draughtsman among a throng of photographers which is exactly why the magazine wanted his unique perspective. He struggled with the impassive features of the accused, making many sketches, and eventually moving on to the judges and court staff for contextual supporting portraits. However the magazine only used three of the drawings in the final spread.

In a letter signed to his secretary Jean Ellsmore he relates his impression of Adolf Eichmann, "... a pretty cool customer - barely moves an eyebrow in hours. I'm sitting about 10 feet from him all the time - so somehow I should get a likeness!". The modern part of Jerusalem he describes as being "like a slightly oriental Notting Hill Gate." -Jerusalem, Israel, Friday, 14th April, [1961]

Digging through the LIFE Photo Archive I found this image of the journalists assembled at the trial. I believe I identified Searle amongst those gathered which he verified with me when shown the photo.

In correspondence with American artist Ruth Cyril he revealed his true feelings about this assignment:
'The trial - listening to those unspeakable stories for almost a month was alternately unutterably dull and unbearably harrowing. It plunged me into such gloom that O couldn't start on the work for ten days. I simply left the court at the end of each day, ate my Kosher omelette (or what ever the hell it what it was) and crept into bed at 9.0pm wishing myself the hell out of it.'

Searle's 'press' badge and a shot of him drawing next to a local artist.

See more of Searle's court drawing assignments here

Monday, May 02, 2016

Ronald Searle and The Great Fur Opera!

Monday May 2nd 2016 HBC is celebrating its 346th anniversary! See my old post on the amazing book he did for their 300th published in 1970 here