Friday, January 16, 2015

Ronald Searle's America

My forthcoming book on Ronald Searle's American era work is now available to pre-order on Amazon here.

'This is legendary British cartoonist Ronald Searle’s caustic take on 1960s America, in the form of illustrations and drawings (with commentary).
Dispatched to America in the early ’60s, the golden age of illustrative reportage, Ronald Searle spent several years covering everything—in the form of drawings in his trademark satirical and virtuosic style—from sports to politics, for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and TV Guide. Topics included Palm Springs, Las Vegas, the Presidential contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon—as seen through the eyes of a caustic Englishman. Full-color illustrations throughout.'

Friday, January 02, 2015


Here's a great feature on Searle from The Sketch magazine 1949. Alongside the St.Trinians drawings the article portrays the artist and his family. His first wife Kaye Webb and their (non-identical) twin children Kate and John in the bath!
That's a good shot of Ronald in front of a tapestry made in his style. I've see that in other photos and assumed it was from his design. This confirms it.  The picture's caption hints at the artist's true passion 'Like many other successful humorists, he is really more keen on serious work.' He would kill off his famous creations only a few years after this and pursue acceptance by the fine art world with a move to Paris in the early 1960s.

These early pictures seem to show the original design on paper. By the time the Searles moved to their modern, Denys Lasdun-designed, house at 32 Newton Rd. a woven tapestry was hanging on the wall. As you can see in the photos below it was part of an eclectic collection of artifacts that Ronald gathered including the Benin Bronze that he later sold.

I believe the tapestry was woven at the Edinburgh Tapestry Co. under the supervision of Ronald Cruickshank. (Artistic Director of the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, woven at The Golden Targe Tapestry Studio, Chester Street, Edinburgh).

(Thanks to Merfyn Jones for the magazine article scan)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


This cropped up on the UK Parliament's Twitter feed. Looks like they got a drawing out of Searle for their collection in 2009.

'The ancient and rather touching ceremony of proceeding towards Christmas'


Premier title sequence website 'Art of the Title' feature Searle's work on the film 'Scrooge'. The artwork was recently auctioned off at Bonhams and I've added all the images to the relevant section of this site here. If any buyers are reading I'd love to get some hi-res scans for my Searle archive. I can be contacted at the email link in my Blogger profile.

Art of the Title previously featured Searle's titles for 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines' here.

A recent curiosity I discovered was the Ronald Searle 'Cork-Scrooge' - a rare oddity I'd never heard of. Info here.

. . .and one last Christmas treat! Ulli Lust writes a report (in German) on his visit to the Searle archive in Hanover, with several good photos. I was fortunate to spend 2 days there back in 2010- it's Searle heaven! See the blog here
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

NY Times Book Review

'Attempted Bloggery' found an incomplete drawing by Searle with a Santa sketch. (The recipient was his U.S. rep. Eileen McMahon).  In his archive I remember seeing a collection of xeroxed pages Ronald had made of this drawing and others for the NY Times Book Review (7th September 1997). Ronald was known to art directors and art editors as a professional who would not only dispatch artwork on time but they would often be happily surprised to receive a whole batch of ideas on the same theme for them to pick from. This seems to be the case here where Ronald has offered a variety of Santa gags, perhaps for a 'Books for Christmas' feature? I can't find any reference to this artwork on the NY Times archive website. Maybe someone will be able to find a back issue for me?

Searle explored the 'art museum guard' situation several times over his career.

 An Arcimboldo-like Santa comprised of Christmas dinner!

 Santa delivers a giant bottle of ink on his nib-antlered reindeer!

More Christmas Searle here

Saturday, December 06, 2014

BNF 1973

In 1973 Searle was honored by the Bibliothèque nationale de France,  Paris with a career retrospective- the only living non French artist to be recognized thus.

'In July 1971 Searle received two awards: the "Prize of Humour S.P.H" and the "Avignon City Medal". A few months later, he received the "Great Prize for Black Humour / Grandville". In 1972 he was awarded the "Prize Charles Huard for Press Cartoons". In the same year, crowning these French distinctions, the Bibliothèque Nationale [National Library] invited him to show a personal retrospective at the Cabinet des Estampes in 1973. Of course Searle agreed and became the first non-French living artist to be honored that way by this institution. Unfortunately, for economical reasons, the B.N. suggested that the catalog was just a list on sheets of paper. Searle’s cartoonist friend Jean-Pierre Desclozeaux was outraged, and so as to have a proper, fully illustrated and well documented catalog printed he founded the association "Les Amis de Ronald Searle" [Searle’s Friends] which collected funds and brought life to this book. 259 works were on display at the B.N. from January 26th to late March 1973. . . .

. . . The drawing reproduced on the front cover of the catalogue (here above) is one the three works stolen during the exhibition. The Bibliothèque Nationale having failed to insure itself against such troubles was obliged to acquire these works from the artist, who thus came to be officially “represented in the Bibliothèque Nationale”, as he later put it, “by three phantom pictures”.

The catalogue can be found on eBay or there is a digitized version online here.

Photo: Claudia Desclozeaux