Leslie Ward -Caricaturist for Vanity Fair

My favourite caricaturist is Englishman Leslie Matthew Ward (1851-1922) who painted over a thousand portraits of famous people and published in the magazine Vanity Fair. Ward also published under the names Spy and Drawl. Ward was knighted in 1918 in recognition of his work.

As we’ve been talking about suffragettes I will start by showing you Ward’s caricature of my mother’s second cousin Edmund Robertson MP for Dundee in the Liberal Party from 1885 to 1908. Edmund was a good man doing much for the working men of Dundee but unfortunately he wasn’t so keen on the suffragettes as they disrupted many of his speeches. He was however, quite happy for women to join the Liberal Party as, he said, they needed someone to make the sandwiches!!
Ironically Edmund’s niece Lillias 'Mabel' Forbes Robertson studied at the Royal College of Art (South Kensington, London) graduating with a first class certificate in Architecture in 1911. During the time of her study she lived with her uncle Edmund so maybe he had mellowed by this time. As an aside, whilst I can’t find any details on Mabel’s studies, she must have been one of the first women in England to graduate as an architect.

But back to Leslie Ward (1851-1922) who came from a family of artists and was surrounded by famous names from birth. More on his family at a later time. Here is a caricature of Sir Leslie Ward, by Jean de Paleologue (PAL) a Romanian poster artist, painter, & illustrator who worked in France & the United States. We will look at his work in a later Blog.
Leslie Ward attended Eton College and started drawing caricatures of his classmates & school masters. He trained as an architect to please his father but eventually with the help of the artist W.P. Frith entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1871 to study as an artist. In 1873 Leslie sent some of his work to Thomas Gibson Bowles founder of Vanity Fair & was hired to replace Carlo Pellegrini (Ape). It was Bowles who suggested Leslie adopt the nom de crayon Spy meaning to observe secretly, or to discover at a distance or in concealment. So let's look at who he was observing and recording.

Ward’s portraits were produced as watercolours & turned into chromolithographs for publication in Vanity Fair. Later the paintings were usually reproduced on better paper & sold as prints. Here is the first caricature Ward (as Spy) published in Vanity Fair in 1873. It is of Edward Levy-Lawson a British newspaper proprietor.

And here is an early lithograph done by Ward also in 1873 of the Rt Hon. Lord Otho Augustus Fitzgerald, M.P., A Message from the Queen. I do like his style!

As the women’s movement gained momentum in the early 1870s the British Parliament was in a state of flux with several politicians taking several turns over the years to be Prime Minister. Here are Spy's perception of them.

Benjamin Disraeli a Conservative was the Prime Minister for two turns. And William Edward Gladstone was the Prime Minister representing the Liberal Party for three turns. Here is Ward’s picture of him.
The 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil) joined in and had three turns. This is what Leslie Ward saw in him.

And in between the 5th Earl of Rosebury (Archibald Primrose) was Prime Minister. None missed the satirical eye of Leslie Ward. Here is Archibald looking as if he has everything under control!!
Of course the Boer War (1899-1902) was taking up the time of the politicians so the suffragettes had little chance. Did you know that the British Government decided against sending mounted troops to South Africa because they believed (to their own detriment) that the Dutch couldn't ride horses!!
In 1902 Arthur Balfour took over for three years. Now he looks like he could ride a horse!

To be replaced by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman who looks exhausted by it all but probably sympathised with the suffragettes as he told them to keep pestering.

Finally Henry Herbert Asquith was in power (1908-1916) during the the most turbulent suffragette period from late 1905 to 1914. Asquith (a Liberal), was against women having the vote & was harassed excessively by the suffragettes. His opposition was political --grounded in the belief that if women were enfranchised on a property qualification, it would give the vote to many upper class women who would vote Conservative. A number of Asquith’s colleagues actually favoured female suffrage, among them Edward Grey (Foreign Secretary, 1905-16), Richard Haldane (Secretary of State for War, 1905-12) and Lloyd George (Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1908-16).

He is Asquith wittily represented in a cartoon by “Spy”, alias Leslie Ward, looking ridiculously pleased with himself.

I have searched but Ward didn’t seem to draw many women. I have managed to find his caricature of Christabel Pankhurst.
And Georgina Weldon (1837–1914) who was a British campaigner against the lunacy laws, a celebrated litigant and noted amateur soprano of the Victorian era.

Its a while since I mentioned our friend Jimmy Whistler. You will be please to know he didn't miss out and here he is as created by Spy. I do like it very much.
I'm concluding today with Spy's caricature of E.Ray Lankester(1847-1929). Why, you ask? Did he have anything to do with the suffragettes. No, he was a zoologist and wrote on animal locomotion in such articles as The Problem of the Galloping Horse. He pointed out that often artists get their image of the horse horribly wrong. So I thought it was time we left the women and did something for animal rights! Getting their bodies correct will be a good start!!
And so we are moving away from portraits of people to portraits of horses and other creatures.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on anewman@netspace.net.au or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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