Saturday, February 11, 2012

I shouldn't have hobbies

Hobbies are problematic for me, if left untended they become absorbing. I prefer to graze, a little bit here, a little bit there. Grazing fits my personality. My namesake, Toad, of Wind in the Willows fame, was a grazer as well.

I've long been (collector is too strong a word) an enthusiast of the original London weekly magazine, Vanity Fair's caricature prints. Often, the black and white lithographs could be found framed for a couple of dollars at flea markets or garage sales. They made for inexpensive wall coverings, and as long as I didn't know any better I was quite satisfied.

Knowledge, or its lack, can be a dangerous thing. Looking at the prints on my walls I became curious. Who were these people, why where they selected for publication? Roy T. Mathews and Peter Mellini wrote a book,
In Vanity Fair, which answered just such questions. It has pride of place, an arms length away from where I write this.

When I found the sporting prints, which were printed in color, it was like discovering a new world. I search continually for them. Russell March has collected and written books about the sportsman Cricketers, and Jockeys while others collected and written about the Welsh subjects legal luminaries, and WF in South Africa. At least one artist, Leslie Ward, has written a book about his experiences at VF. There may be others. My bookshelves groan.

Johnie come lately that I am I've only recently discovered an new avenue for acquisition, the pre publication printers proof copies of the artist drawings. Before Christmas I had never considered them, now I have four. I love them not only for the subject matter, but for the boldness of the colors. I don't want them all, but when I see one, it must move me immediately. My taste may not be yours, but to paraphrase a Supreme Court Justice, "I know it when I see it."

The Shih Tzu in the arm of Admiral Lord Charles William De La Poer Beresford made this my first must have.

The Earl De Grey came next. A stylish gentleman certainly.

Another tangent I have mostly, carefully avoided are prints made my Vanity Fair artists for other outlets. I've only one very special drawing, which along with my Dickens, will be first saved in the fire.



Anonymous said...

Great post on the VF caricatures - they are so full of life, eccentricity and detail! And I do like your evocation of the line: "I know it when I see it." (!)

Lou said...

You are very clearly very British... Great prints.

I've got an antique engraving of the Death of Nelson 1806 by Benjamin West. (American born artist) I love it. I found it in a scruffy gallery in London's Notting Hill in the early 90's.

Karena said...

Toad a very admirable hobby I would say!

Art by Karena

James said...

I really like the way your newly painted room came out.

Old Polo said...

As James posted. I think that it looks smashing, particularly with your art choices.

ADG said...

Just wait till we get you your first watercolour.