Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Heroes of Our Time

In the late fifties Searle made a series of full colour portraits of contemporary 'heroes' for Punch magazine. They were published as 'centre-fold' spreads, twelve in total.

(Photo by Inge Morath)

'Among the 'Heroes', there were several (notably T.S.Eliot, in his office at Faber's) who consented to give Ronald a brief sitting, though they must have known that the heading under which they were destined to appear was heavy with irony.  The selection actually divided itself between Sacred Monsters and Sacred Cows.  Adopting the faded palette of the age of 'Spy' and 'Ape', and toning down his natural spikiness, Searle produced portraits which were the talk of London for weeks. . . '

Russell Davies

1 Sir Malcolm Sargent September 12, 1956
"Our glossiest maestro dominates the scene
With renderings as glossy as his mien.
Let envious, less glossy maestros sneer,
But goodness, how the Promenaders cheer!"

Pencil sketches of Malcolm Sargent made at rehearsal in the Albert Hall

'This 5” x 8” greetings card has a Ronald Searle cartoon of conductor Malcolm Sargent on the cover. Inside is a pre-printed greeting AND one in the conductor’s own hand. PRINTED is: “Sincere Good Wishes from Malcolm Sargent”. To this, Sargent has added, in his OWN HAND: “So grateful for the notes (3 volumes!) – M.”. In addition, in order to make the printed greeting more personal, he has put “Sargent” in brackets. The conductor presumably had a stock of these cards printed for his own use, after Searle’s cartoon appeared in Punch magazine. In good condition with just a few minor signs of wear.' (eBay)

2 Mr Gilbert Harding -television personality.  'Punch' magazine 19 September 1956
'Behold in me the common people's sage, 

The Plato of the television age.
In place of wisdom, piety or grace 
I offer endless prospects of my face.'

3 Lord Goddard
Punch, October 3, 1956

4 Aneurin Bevan ‘Heroes of our Time' 

T S Eliot - 'Punch' magazine 14 November 1956
'What we praise most, in your adopted land,
Are all the things we cannot understand.
So stand not on the Order of your Merit;
England has honours yet you may inherit.
Pile fame on fame, reflecting as you go

"Omne ignotum pro magnifico".'
Sketch of T. S. Eliot inscribed by Eliot, 17th July 1956 at Faber & Faber Office, London
Eliot was the only one to actually sit for Searle when making these portraits

6 Lord Beaverbrook / Daily Express / Newspaper mogul / journalism / Canadian tycoon
'Punch' magazine 5 December 1956

The Beaver has a notion that without his guiding hand
Our grand Imperial destiny's a castle built on sand.
Contrariwise, observers of his journalistic capers
Can estimate the influence of an empire built on papers.'

7 Princess Margaret  Dec 19 1956

The Dean of Canterbury Hewlett Johnson
 'Punch' magazine 9 January 1957 

'What curious creed does Hewlett preach,
What singular gospel spread?
Perhaps that the doctrines the Christians teach
Should all be taken as red.'

9 Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh January 23, 1957

"In Shakespeare and Coward and Rattigan, what other stars can give
Such prettily turned performances as those of Larry and Viv? 
But the parts they play with a polish that's almost unmatched in our age
Are SIr Laurence and Lady Olivier, First Lady and Gent of the stage."

10 The Marquess of Salisbury 'Punch' magazine 27 February 1957

'I come from haunts of duke and earl;
I ornament the Tories;
Encrowned with strawberry-leaf and pearl;
I shine among their glories.
The House of Lords I may bring low,
And rank from ruling sever;
For peers may come and peers may go,
But Cecils rule for ever.'

11 Brian Robertson

Lord Russell / Conrad / Lib Dem peer.  'Punch' magazine 27 March 1957

'All earthly knowledge finally explored, 
Man feels himself from doubt and dogma free.
There are more things in Heaven, though, my lord,
Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.' 

Inge Morath © The Inge Morath Foundation


dabeagle said...

I found your blog through the CTN Expo email...wonderful idea. Searle is certainly one of the greats, and a great influence. I've collected his books for many years - got a numbered print once, but never scored an original. Congratulations on getting to meet him! My knees would buckle.
Keep up the good work.
Dean Yeagle

Matt Jones said...

Thanks for stopping by Dean-will you be at the CTNxpo?

Elliot said...

That T.S. Eliot is perhaps the best Searle portrait I've ever seen.

Matt Jones said...

I believe Eliot was one of the few of the subjects who Searle actually had sit for their portraits.

Unknown said...

I think I remember seeing a comic strip by Searle back in the mid 1960's involving a train line. I haven't been able to find any of the drawings online. If I'm remembering this correctly, are there any of those drawings available for viewing?- Steve Horswell

docnad said...

Steve, is it possible you're thinking of Rowland Emett?

Unknown said...

Docnad -thanks for the idea that I might be remembering something by Rowland Emett. It's possible. His trains were similar to the one I saw. For some reason though it seemed like the characters looked more like Searles. This was a long time ago and I may be melding the two together in my memory. It was an article in a Sunday newspaper mag like Parade about this regular cartoon in Punch as I remember it (1962 ish). Maybe it was another cartoonist imitating both their styles a little bit. But again,it very well could have been Emett. Thanks for your input and would welcome any other ideas.- Steve Horswell

Unknown said...

Does anyone know of a cartoon by Searle called 'The Curate'? Goes on about Rothmans cigarettes?

Matt Jones said...

Hey Abbie- you may be thinking of a series of drawings Searle made advertising the brand you mentioned. Published in book form as 'Mr Rothman's Guide To London'. I plan to post the whole series at some point.

joanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joanne said...

I have lord Russel no 12 in very good condition

Unknown said...

I inherited 8 of the 12 Punch centerfolds. As far as I know my grandparents only ever collected 8 of them. They are all still framed and in very good condition. They appeared to be a little spooky to me as a child but now I have grown to love them. They were the only item I wished for when my grandmother passed and my grandfather retired to a home. I would love to know where the originals are.