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 pétanques' 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'

No comments: