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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Let's Have a Bite

 This is a special report by contributor Stephen Nadler.  I'm very grateful to our man in NYC for presenting this comprehensive view of the current Searle exhibition at the Forbes Galleries.  It's an epic post with many interesting pieces for Searle fans.  If you're in New York City I would of course recommend seeing these drawings for real but for those who can't make it this gives a good idea of what's on show.


Joshua Tree at NightArtwork for Let's Have a Bite is on display in the Picture Gallery.  All the original artwork by Ronald Searle seems to be here, save the lettering.  It is all extremely fresh, energetic, and vibrant.  I would never guess this is the work of a nonagenarian.  I saw a lot of happy faces around the gallery when I could take my eyes off the superb artwork.  Interestingly, children's book illustration was a fairly small part of Searle's oeuvre until recently.
The original art is on Vinci paper, 
which Searle has been using at least 
since the late 1980's.









110 Degrees (Oasis of Mara)
A Busy Day for Goslings


'The Houseguest' (detail)  For me, this is what the back of a television will always look like.  I suppose there are as yet no underwater flat-screen TV's. 
From the Overlook Press blog.  Behind Robert Forbes is Searle's St. Trinian's: 'The food of love' and '"Well done, Elspeth - it was Deadly Nightshade."

I was fortunate enough to attend a reception for the book hosted by Mr. Forbes himself, and I even got to talk with him for a little while.  He seemed delighted to meet a lifelong Searle fan.  He explained that when he decided to put together Beastly Feasts, his first book of poems for children, he asked around for who the best illustrator would be.  He was directed, quite naturally, to Ronald Searle (whose work, incidentally, had appeared in Forbes F.Y.I. in the past).  Today, he is amazed that Searle submits finished drawings ready for publication, rather than preliminary sketches.  So I asked him the unthinkable.  I inquired whether over the course of these few years a Searle drawing had ever been rejected.   The answer was no--I should have known--but one drawing had to be revised because of an error in the text of one of the poems, some detail about an animal that was incorrect!  He went on to praise London dealer Chris Beetles, who helped him put together his broad collection of earlier Searle artwork.  

The Forbes Galleries are located at 65 Fifth Avenue in New York at 12th Street.  The Let's Have a Bite! exhibit is on view from September 30, 2010 to November 20, and from December 7 to January 8, 2011 only.  From November 22 to December 4, the Galleries will be closed to remove the collection of toy boats, tin soldiers, unique monopoly games, and trophies, all which have been there since 1985.  They are going to be sold at auction.  It's a loss, but not as big a loss as the Fabergè eggs in 2004.

Ronald Searle:  A Lifetime of Drawing
This part of the exhibit is on view in the Carrère and Hastings Galleries from September 1, 2010 to March 12, 2011, but it will be closed between November 22 and December 4.  You will need to see it by January 8 if you want to catch the Let's Have a Bite artwork here as well before it moves on to its next venue. 
Admission is free.  There is no exhibition catalogue.  Photography is not permitted in the gallery, but much of the Forbes collection was on the market fairly recently and so is well-documented.  In fact, anyone who tried to purchase original Searle artwork from 2003 or so to 2008 may have had to bid directly or indirectly against Robert Forbes, who, as one of the sons of Malcolm Forbes, was willing and able to pay top dollar.  This exhibition is very similar to that of 2007-8, but I believe a few purchases at auction from 2008 have been quietly added to the collection.  As far as I can recall, nothing from two years ago was removed from display, but the separate collection of Monica Searle's costume jewelry is not present.  In those instances where I don't have an illustration, I have simply described the artwork.  In the cases of lithographs, medals, or ceramics, I've had to show examples similar to what is in the Forbes collection.

War Drawings and After:
There is the original book cover artwork to Bamboo and Bushido by A. G. Allbury.



Of these, only the rough on the lower right is in the show:  "I hear Gladstone's not Prime Minister now." ( two elderly gentlemen seated in a club)signed low er right and additionally inscribed ‘published 1946/7? | drawn in POW camp | RG’ on reverse of page of ink sketches
The finished version of the Gladstone cartoon is also on display.
•"And tell Herbert we're watching the situation very closely,"  Tribune, 1949-1951.

 JFK, 1960

•"Darling, just what I wanted."  1950.
•Toulouse-Lautrec charcoal


Boyscout (no date)
  
St. Trinian's and Molesworth:
Just a few of the original drawings from the forties and fifties are on display.  Then there are some more recent undated drawings which suggest a possible book project Searle may have considered, one which would have combined St. Trinian's and St. Custard's.  Just a theory.

 "Elspeth.  Put that back at once."

Jolly hockey 1954









"Well done, Elspeth - it was Deadly Nightshade" 1951
Ronald Searle, The Rustle of Spring at St. Trinian's, published 1951.
Lilliput Magazine, March, 1951.
Ronald Searle, Back to the Slaughterhouse, published by Macdonald, London, 1951, p. 64.
Ronald Searle, The St. Trinian's Story, published by Perpetua Books, London, 1959, p. 74. 









Molesworth: Produktivity in Skool 1956 (Molesworth:/Whizz for Atoms/(page 103) 'Produktivity in Skool/The Molesworth production line for latin sentences/the new sentence: 'Gotta and Balbus love the sweet voices/of the girls' is fed into the sorter./The vicker disgorges them as latin/The assembler puts them together/and the boys take them to the ticking machine'
Max Parrish Molesworth: Whizz for Atomms, published London, 1956, p.103. 

 'A belle of St. Trinian's'
pencil, pen and black ink and watercolour

'That's it girls! Diaghilev would be thrilled' 
black ink and wash
'Oh come on, girls. Put some magic into it!'
pencil, black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour
'Fagged out'
black ink and coloured crayons


'For England and St George!' 
black ink


St. Trinian's: 'The food of love' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'The food of love, etc.'(lower left)
pencil, black ink and watercolour, unframed 
14½ x 11¼ in. (37 x 28.5) 
"Romeo, Come forth thou fearful man..."
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle/'Romeo, come forth,/thou fearful man...' (lower left)
pen and black ink, black chalk and watercolour heightened with white, unframed
11½ x 11 in. (29.1 x 28 cm.) 
The exhibit incorrectly dates this drawing to the 1950's.
Nigel dreams: 'Oo gosh! Babe Nigel make the home run' 
signed, inscribed and dated 'Ronald Searle/1963/Nigel dreams: Oo gosh! Babe Nigel make the home run' (lower left)
pencil, black ink and bodycolour, 11¾ x 16 in. (30 x 40.7 cm.) 
Sports Illustrated Magazine, New York, 1963. 
Behind the Bicycle Shed: 'Molesworth! You can't do that! You're a fictional character!'
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle/Behind the bicycle shed 'MOLESWORTH! You can't do THAT!/You're a fictional character!' (lower left)
pencil, black ink and watercolour, unframed 
15 x 11 in. (38 x 28 cm.) 


Personally inscribed by Searle:

There are a number of books and cards from the collection of his secretary Jean with original inscriptions and illustrations.  These include original drawings in Paris Sketchbook (of a barkeep) and the Square Egg (of an angry bird who just laid a square egg).  

A copy of Filles du Hamburg contains an original color nude, quite nice.  A typewriter is drawn in another one of Jean's books.  On display also is an original birthday card with a cat illustration circa the first edition of Searle's Cats.  Then there is an amazing copy of Take One Toad with an original drawing of a toad taking one human!
There's also a copy of Something in the Cellar with an original color illustration for the Forbeses, a mouse raising a champagne glass in a toast.

Original Lithographs:

Swinger, no. 7/99 (another example shown here) after Fragonard.

Those Magnificent Cats in Their Flying Machines, Epreuve Aquarellée, a rare original watercolor proof of the published lithograph shown here.  I've never seen one of these before.
'Insect play' (Study for a lithograph) 1970

Four Artist's Proofs consisting of color prints of a Beastly Feasts or Let's Have a Bite illustration with the corresponding Forbes poem, signed below in pencil by both Searle and Forbes
Spiral-Bound Sketchbook:
A rare spiral-bound sketchbook in private hands .  Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.  Ideas for Titles & Credits.  It's under glass and open to one double page.  Oo gosh indeed!
Lemon Hart Rum and Other Advertising:

Mr. Lemon Hart and Sculpture - Old and New Theme, ca. 1961
Pen and ink with watercolor and bodycolor and pencil: 12 ¼ x 15 ½ in.
Mr. Lemon Hart in the rose garden, old and new theme, c. 1960
Mr. Lamb's Navy Rum Mowing the Lawn
Umbrellas
A Lemon Hart Happy Christmas card of The Pantomime Horse (not this original artwork)
•Still Life of Lemon Hart and Lamb's Navy Rum, n.d.
•The Band (Lemon Hart), n.d.
•Mr. Lemon Hart's Rum Punch, n.d.
•Do it yourself, Mr. Lemon Hart, up a ladder














'The Company Director' 
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle/The Company Director/Services for Company Directors B' (lower left)
black ink and watercolour, unframed 
11½ x 18¾ in. (29.3 x 47.7 cm.) 
A design for a Lloyds Bank brochure. 
•Another Day, Another Dollar.  Oil trucks from the Lloyds Bank brochure.
•Keeping the Seagram's close
The Coke (1951) advertising artwork from The New Yorker
Ceramics:
Lorelei 
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle/Lorelei' (centre) and further inscribed with printing notations
pencil, black ink and bodycolour, unframed 
15 x 10¼ in. (38.2 x 26.1 cm.) 
A design for a plate produced by Nymolle Ceramics, Copenhagen.
The plate is also shown.

•Quaffing barflies, 1967, two designs for Nymolle Ceramics, Copenhagen.
There are four different tiny dishes like this from Nymolle.
Yes, the Forbeses have a mug similar to this.  "Cat of a thousand disquises concealing itself as a rug."  They also have "Happy Ending."
Coasters
Readers of The New York Times are the Most Entertaining People.  This image shows matchbooks, but the coasters on display are based on the same artwork.

Four Original Medals:
 James Boswell

 Pier Leone Ghezzi

Annibal Carracci

 James Gillray

Magazine Reportage and Illustration:
'The Supermarket Reaches Rome' Venture magazine 1966.








Walkies, Palm Springs 1963
pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour heightened with white and crayon
An original illustration for Holiday Magazine, New York, February 1965. 

Artist Under Pressure, 1961, ink drawing of a Provincetown artist defending his fish canvas from attacking seagulls.

Los Angeles-  A drawing of the Los Angeles Freeways with the Duke of Edinburgh separated from his motorcade, based on a real-life event!

Casablanca 1965


•Day Across the Channel (elaborately filled bathtub), 1997
•A drawing of S. J. Perleman in a bathtub, perhaps from the "Nostasia in Asia" series.
 
 
'The almighty-ish dollar'
'The almighty-ish dollar'  Money Magazine, New York, 1973.
pencil, pen and black ink and watercolour
  (This was purchased at Christie's South Kensington in 2008 and could not have been in the Forbes 2007-2008 show).







St George and the Euro Dragon inscribed 'L'Eurosceptique' (lower left)
pencil and pen and black ink.  An original illustration for Le Monde, Paris, 26 March 1997. 
Sketch for Lautrec's mislaid masterpiece 'The Raft of the Medusa' 
inscribed 'Sketch for Lautrec's mislaid masterpiece/The Raft of the Medusa.' (lower right)
pen and black ink, grey wash and red crayon
  
Original Book Illustrations:
Office Duet


Ever Yours (woman signing off a letter)

Merry England, Etc., published by Perpetua books, London, 1956, p. 24.

Published in Punch on 29th February 1956. 


'Colonels sitting on the porches of their pillared mansions in undress uniform...' from By Rocking Chair Across America with Alex Atkinson

The original cover artwork to 'Anglo Saxon Attitudes'

'A Christmas Carol. Scrooge and/the Ghost of Christmas Present: From the fold of its robe, it brought two children: wretched, abject....'
black ink and watercolour
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, published by Perpetua Books: London & World Publishing, New York, 1961, p. 79. 

Piccadilly, Exploring London, 1965


Oliver Asks For More, Exploring London, 1965


Royal Mint, Exploring London, 1965

Copy of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen with original drawing and inscription to Leonard Lyons (1971)







The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Munchausen chases a hare 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower left) 
pen and black ink and grey wash, unframed 
10 x 14½ in. (25.4 x 36.9 cm.) 
Ronald Searle, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, published by Pantheon Books, New York, 1969, p. 26-27. and Harrap, London, 1985, p. 25. 







The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Munchausen Père meets a seahorse 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower left) 
pen and black ink and black wash, unframed 
10 x 14½ in. (25.5 x 37 cm.) 
Ronald Searle, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, published by Pantheon Books, New York, 1969, p. 93. and Harrap, London, 1985, p. 91. 







Romantic pianist 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower left) and dated '1968' (lower right) 
black ink and wash, unframed 
9½ x 8 in. (24 x 19.5 cm.) 
Ronald Searle, The Square Egg, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1968, p. 45. 


'A Cure for the Hiccoughs' from Take One Toad:- a book of ancient remedies 1968
black ink and watercolour
The Illustrated Winespeak original artwork to front and back covers is actually on one sheet.
'Bacchus & Co.' and 'Winespeak: The Wicked World of Winetasting' pencil, black ink and watercolour
Winespeak:  Might be a touch over-developed 
 pen and black ink and watercolour







Winespeak:'Not a lot of depth but has substance'
Ronald Searle, Winespeak: The Wicked World of Winetasting, Souvenir Press, London, 1983. 

GPO Weddings greeting telegram 1962, or what have you
 

The Wicked World of Book Collecting: Slight snag on back cover
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'The Wicked World of Book Collecting' (upper left) and further inscribed 'Slight snag on back cover' (lower left)
pen and black ink, coloured crayon and watercolour, unframed
12¾ x 9¾ in. (32.4 x 24.7 cm.) 








The wicked world of book selling: Added portrait 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right), inscribed as title (lower left) and (lower centre)
pencil, pen and black ink with charcoal and watercolour, 12½ x 10 in. (32 x 26 cm.) 
An original illustration for the Wicked World of Bookselling: Added Portrait, London, 1989 (unpublished).
 
Not in Slightly Foxed...
A massive heart attack trying to move a statue in the garden… from Cat o' Nine Tales by Jeffrey Archer.
'Oh, and a beautiful super supermarket over there'
'Oh, and a beautiful super supermarket over there' 
signed and dated 'Ronald Searle/1981' (lower right) and inscribed 'Oh, and a beautiful super supermarket over there' (in the margin)
pencil, pen and black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour, unframed 
17 x 11 in. (43.2 x 28 cm.) 
Original Cat Drawings:
A satiated cat 
(called Fat Cat in the exhibit)
signed 'Ronald Searle.' (lower left) 
pencil, pen and black ink and coloured crayons, heightened with white, unframed
11½ x 7¼ in. (29.3 x 18.4 cm.) 
'Louis Wain. Of course, show him in!' 
signed 'Ronald Searle -' (lower right) and inscribed 'Louis Wain. Of course,/show him in!' (lower left)
pencil, black ink and watercolour, unframed 
12 x 16½ in. (30.5 x 41.9 cm.) 







'Come in!' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'Come in!' (lower left)
pencil, black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour, unframed
 
12½ x 10 in. (31.7 x 25.4 cm.)
 
Cat o' Nine Tails (1980)
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower left) and inscribed 'Cat o'Nine Tails' (lower right)
pen and black ink and watercolour and coloured crayons, unframed 
12½ x 9½ in. (31.7 x 24.2 cm.)
 
The end 
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle/The End' (lower left) 
pencil, pen and black ink and watercolour heightened with white, 9¼ x 11½ in. (23.5 x 29.3 cm.) 
'Quite a night out, actually' 
signed and dated 'Ronald Searle./1982' (lower right) and inscribed 'Quite a night out, actually' (lower left)
pen and black ink and watercolour, 15 x 11 in. (38.2 x 27.9 cm.) 
Landscape with figures (1979)
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower left) and inscribed 'Landscape with figures' (lower right)
pencil, pen and black ink and watercolour, 12¾ x 17½ in. (32.4 x 44.5 cm.)
 
'Kiss, kiss -' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'Kiss. Kiss -' (lower left)
black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour, 10 x 7¾ in. (25.4 x 19.7 cm.)
 
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!' (lower left)
pen and black ink and watercolour, unframed 
12½ x 11 in. (31.8 x 28 cm.)

'Just a trifling bauble, my dear'
'Just a trifling bauble, my dear' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'Just a trifling bauble, my dear' (lower left)
pencil, pen and black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour, unframed 
11¾ x 8 3/8 in. (29.8 x 21.3 cm.) 
Cushioned 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'Cushioned' (lower left)
pen and black ink and coloured crayons,  
12 x 17¼ in. (30.5 x 43.8 cm.)
 
Dissolute pussy ravished to discover that all cats are not the same in the dark
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower left), and inscribed 'Dissolute pussy ravished to discover that/all cats are not the same in the dark' (lower right)
pen and black ink and watercolour, unframed
10¼ x 13¼ in. (26 x 36.2 cm.)
 
'Supercat. The End' 
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle/Supercat. The End' (lower left) 
pencil, black ink and watercolour, 10 x 13 in. (25.5 x 33.5 cm.)
 
Morning Glow (1983)
signed and dated 'Ronald Searle/1983' (lower right) and inscribed 'Morning glow' (lower left)
pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour and coloured crayons, 9½ x 11½ in. (24.2 x 29.3 cm.) 
'Sunday afternoon'
Sunday Afternoon
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) 
pencil, pen and black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour, 12¼ x 14 in. (31.1 x 35.6 cm.) 
(One of several pieces not in the 2007-8 show)
' - and so Rin Tin Tin dropped dead -' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed '- and so/Rin Tin Tin dropped dead' (lower left)
pencil, black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour,  
9 x 7 7/8 in. (22.8 x 20 cm.)
 
 Original book illustration from Tales of Grandpa Cat (1994) by Lee  Wardlaw, one of Searle's rare forays into children's book illustration before the collaborations with Mr. Forbes.
•Then he took a deep breath and jumped, Another original book illustration of a Wall Street cat jumping out the window from tales of Grandpa Cat (1994). 







Christmas Presents! 
signed and dated 'Ronald Searle 1993' (lower left) 
pen and black ink, watercolour and crayon 
18¾ x 14¼ in. (47.5 x 37 cm.) 
An illustration for the Christmas card for Married Women magazine, New York. 

Crackers 
signed and inscribed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and 'Crackers' (lower left)
black ink and watercolour, unframed 
10¾ x 9¼ in. (27.4 x 23.5 cm.) 
A design for a christmas card for Camden Graphics, London. 
'The Owl and the Pussycat'
'The Owl and the Pussycat' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) 
pencil, pen and black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour heightened with white, unframed
11 3/8 x 17¼ in. (28.8 x 43.8 cm.) 
'Play it again, Sam!' 
signed 'Ronald Searle' (lower right) and inscribed 'Play it again, Sam!' (lower left)
black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour, unframed 
11 x 14 in. (27.5 x 35.5 cm.)
 
'The hoofer' 
pencil, black ink and coloured crayons
Big Fat Cat Book, Macmillan, London, 1982, p. 74. 
Plus a few dogs:
'Such strange, unnatural beauty' 
pen and black ink and crayon
















'It's Cristal y'know' 
pencil, black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour
'Oh what a beautiful morning..' 
pencil, pen and black ink, coloured crayons and watercolour
This is a large part of the exhibit, and it should give you a pretty good idea of what's on display.  Overall, the Forbes collection is remarkable in that it was assembled over a short period of time with great resources.  It includes many of the more interesting pieces that came to the market over the span of, say, six years.  It is conceivable that more artwork may be added at any time, but at this point the collection is growing most rapidly in the area of illustrations for Mr. Forbes's own books, two already published and possibly one or even two more in the works.  Overall, I suspect this show reveals a more fanciful side of Ronald Searle than the recent exhibition in London (but this is admittedly a spurious comparison since I did not see the show in London!).
                                                            --Stephen M. Nadler


Let's Have a Bite!: A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes 

2 comments:

Matt J said...

I always wondered who bought that LemonHart 'sculpture' piece-it went for something like £10,000 if I recall correctly.

Docnad said...

The stunning 20,400 GBP hammer price was actually for a total of 13 watercolors, including the Lemon Hart sculpture piece. Apparently they were purchased by Chris Beetles, who sold them off individually at a tidy profit. He still has 3 offered for sale on his website.