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Vanity Fair Prints - Artists Biographies

This page features the bibliographies of some of the Vanity Fair artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. To browse our stock of Vanity Fair prints please click here

Leslie Ward ('Spy')1851-1922
cartoonist, was born November 21, 1851, in Harewood Square, London. As the son of artists Edward Matthew Ward and Henrietta Mary Ada Ward, Ward's artistic talent was fostered from an early age. After being educated at Eton, Ward who originally trained as an architect subsequently trained under Sidney Smirke and W.P. Frith.

He joined the Royal Academy Schools in 1871, during which time Sir John Everett Millais, struck by Ward's caricatures, introduced him to Thomas Gibson Bowles, the editor of Vanity Fair. Bowles recruited Ward in 1873 to replace Carlo Pellegrini (Ape). Ward contributed regularly to Vanity Fair over the next forty years under the pseudonym 'Spy'. He produced over 2,387 caricatures of well-known people including those in government, finance and education many of which were lithographed by Vincent Brooks. Ward authored a book of recollections in 1915, Forty Years of 'Spy'. He was knighted in 1918 and died on May 15, 1922 in London.

Leslie Ward Spy by PAL


Ape - Carlo Pellegrini
was born in March 1838 in Capua, near Naples, Italy to a noble family. His character was prominent and boldly individual from a young age.

He was educated at the Collegio Barnibiti, and then at Sant' Antonio in Maddaloni, near Naples. As a young man he caricatured Neopolitan Society, modeling his portraits on those of Melchiorre Delfico and Daumier and other French and British artists of the period. Pellegrini claimed to have fought with Garibaldi; however, those who knew him well dismissed this as fantasy.

Deciding to leave Italy in 1864 after a series of personal crises, including the death of his sister, he travelled to England via Switzerland and France. He arrived in London in November 1864; he later claimed to have arrived destitute, and to have slept on the streets and in doorways. However, this claim may have been another fantasy designed to make him seem to be a Bohemian artist. In London he became a friend of the Prince of Wales.

It is not recorded how Pellegrini met Thomas Bowles, the owner of Vanity Fair magazine, but he quickly found himself employed by that publication and became its first caricaturist, originally signing his work as 'Singe' and later, and more famously, as 'Ape' (Italian for Bee). Pellegrini's work for the magazine made his reputation and he became its most influential artist, in which his caricatures were to be printed for over twenty years, from January 1869 to April 1889.

His 1869 caricature of Benjamin Disraeli was the first colour lithograph to appear in the magazine, and proved immensely popular. It was the first of a highly successful series of more than two thousand caricatures published by Vanity Fair. Although the later caricatures by Sir Leslie Ward are perhaps now more well known, those by 'Ape' are regarded by many collectors as being artistically and technically superior. Apart from drawing his caricatures for the magazine Pellegrini attempted to set himself up as a portrait painter, but this venture met with limited success.

Pellegrini met Degas in London in the 1870s, and in about 1876-7 painted his portrait, inscribed 'à vous/Pellegrini' (to you/Pellegrini). In return, Degas painted Pellegrini's portrait, similarly inscribed. Pellegrini was a member of the Beefsteak Club in London and there met Whistler, who became a great influence on his work; indeed, he even attempted to paint portraits in the style of Whistler, but, as said earlier, this venture met with limited success.

Pellegrini was also a member of The Arts Club from 1874 until 1888. Pellegrini was extremely careful about his appearance, and would wear immaculate white spats with highly polished boots. He grew long Mandarin-like fingernails, would never walk when he could ride, and had a limitless fund of amusing stories and eccentricities. He spoke broken-English, and would often bring macaroni dishes to elegant dinner parties. He would refuse invitations to country houses out of fear of strange beds, and had a habit of keeping a cigar in his mouth as he slept.

There is some confusion as to the subject of this initial cartoon, his biography published in Vanity Fair suggests that it was of Lord Beaconsfield, whereas other sources name Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli as his first published lithograph. Ape frequently worked from memory, but when he did work from life, he preferred to have a friend present to engage him in conversation.

He was connected to the English High Society and had many friends there, although his socialite, generous nature usually left him in financial straits. He was considered to be objectionably dressed. Pellegrini continued to work for this publication, with little interruption, until his death in January 1889 at the age of 50 years. He died of lung disease at his home, 53 Mortimer Street, near Cavendish Square in London. He is buried in Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, London, England.

His caricatures were known to never slander a foe and never to adulate a friend, however the subjects of his pencil considered him as a friend and were the most ardent of his admirers.

Ape by Athur H. Marks Pellegrini by Degas


Harry Furniss
the son of an English engineer, was born in County Wexford, Ireland, on 26th March 1854. His mother was the miniaturist painter Isabella Mackenzie. After leaving school he worked as a clerk to a wood-engraver, who taught him the trade. Furniss worked as an artist in Ireland but in 1876 he moved to England and found work with the Illustrated London News. Over the next eight years he developed a reputation as an outstanding draughtsman.

His first job as an illustrator was for the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, and when it was purchased by the owner of The Illustrated London News he moved to that magazine. There he produced illustrations of social events such as the Boat Race, Goodwood and even the annual fancy dress ball at Brookwood Asylum, as well as acting as a special correspondent reporting on less pleasant aspects of life in contemporary England, such as the scandalous divorce trial of Lady Colin Campbell.

The following extract from his autobiography gives due warning that his illustrations should not always be thought of as being produced by a witness to the events depicted.

One boat race, for example, is very much like another. Some years ago I executed a panoramic series of sketches of the University Race from start to finish, and as they were urgently wanted, the drawings had to be sent in the same day. Early in the morning, before the break of fast, I found myself at Putney, rowing up to Mortlake, taking notes of the different points on the way — local colour through a fog. Getting home before the Londoners started for the scene, I was at work, and the drawings — minus the boats — were sent in shortly after the news of the race. Furniss's caricature of William Ewart Gladstone After some years Furniss moved to The Graphic, initially writing and illustrating a series of supplements titled "Life in Parliament", and he comments that "from this time forward it would be difficult to name any illustrated paper with which I have not at sometime or other been connected".

He also contributed to The Pall Mall Gazette, The Daily News, The Sketch, Vanity Fair, The Graphic, and The Windsor Magazine. In October 1880, Francis Burnand, the editor of Punch Magazine, invited Furniss to contribute to the magazine. Several of his cartoons were published and in 1884 he became a member of the staff at the magazine. For the next ten years he illustrated the "Essence of Parliament".

His most famous humorous drawings were published in Punch, for which he started working in 1880, and to which he contributed over 2,600 drawings. He left Punch in 1894 when its owners discovered that he had sold one of his 'Punch' drawings to Pears Soap for use in an advertising campaign. He illustrated Lewis Carroll's novel Sylvie and Bruno in 1889 and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded in 1893. Carroll and Furniss sometimes produced both pictures and text simultaneously. Carroll exerted strong control over Furniss' illustration, to such an extent that Furniss would pretend to be out when Carroll called at his home. After completing Sylvie and Bruno Concluded Furniss vowed never to work for the author again.

Furniss had for a long time wanted his own business and in1894 he started his own cartoon magazine, Like Joka. It sold 140,000 copies on its first day. However, the magazine was not a long-term financial success and he moved to the USA where he worked in the film industry with Thomas Edison. Furniss helped pioneer the animated cartoon films with War Cartoons (1914) and Peace and Pencillings (1914).

In 1890, he illustrated the Badminton Library's volume on Golf. On leaving Punch Furniss brought out his own humorous magazine Lika Joko, but when this failed he moved to America where he worked as a writer and actor in the fledgling film industry and where, in 1914, he pioneered the first animated cartoon film for Thomas Edison. His two-volume autobiography, titled The Confessions of a Caricaturist was published in 1902, and a further volume of personal recollections and anecdotes, Harry Furniss At Home, was published in 1904.

Furniss wrote and illustrated twenty-nine books of his own, including Some Victorian Men and Some Victorian Women and illustrated thirty-four works by other authors, including the complete works of Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. On some projects, like his illustrations for G. E. Farrow's Wallypug books, Furniss collaborated with his daughter, fellow artist Dorothy Furniss (1879–1944).

Furniss married Marian Rogers in the Strand in 1877

He also supplied articles, jokes, illustrations and dramatic criticisms for other sections of the magazine. It is estimated that over the years he contributed more than 2600 drawings to the magazine. Furniss always drew William Gladstone with a large collar, and although he never wore collars like this, the public become convinced that he did. Furniss was a staunch Unionist and he was especially harsh on Irish Nationalists. One MP, Swift MacNeill, who was portrayed as a gorilla, was so angry with that he physically assaulted Furniss. Another group of MPs threatened him with a beating unless he ended his campaign against them.

Harry Furniss work became extremely popular with the British public and this enabled him to tour the country giving lectures on subjects such as "The Frightfulness of Humour" and "Humours of Parliament". Furniss also illustrated a great number of books including those by Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. Mark Bryant has pointed out:

"He rarely used an easel but preferred to work standing up at a waist-high desk. He drew in pen and ink but also worked in chalk and painted in watercolours and oils." R.G.G. Price, the author of A History of Punch (1957) has argued that Furniss was "not a great draughtsman... but a very experienced pictorial journalist who could work fast and get a likeness easily. It is said that he would chat to a man and caricature him on a pad held in his pocket".

He died at his home in Hastings on 14th January, 1925.

Hary Furniss

'T' - Théobald Chartran (1849–1907) was a classical French propaganda painter.
As 'T', he was one of the artists responsible for occasional caricatures of Vanity Fair magazine, specializing in French and Italian subjects.

His work for Vanity Fair included Pope Leo XIII, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Umberto I of Italy, William Henry Waddington, all in 1878, Charles Gounod, Giuseppe Verdi, Ernest Renan, Jules Grévy, Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte, Victor Hugo, Marshal MacMahon, Granier de Cassagnac, Louis Blanc, and Alexandre Dumas, Fils, all in 1879.

President Theodore Roosevelt's official portrait was originally commissioned to Theobald Chartran in 1902, but when Roosevelt saw the final product he hated it and hid it in the darkest corner of the White House. When family members called it the "Mewing Cat" for making him look so harmless, he had it destroyed and hired John Singer Sargent to paint a more masculine portrait.

Among Chartran's work is his portrait of René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec, the inventor of the stethoscope

LIB - Libero Prosperi
Italian caricaturist known also as 'Prosperi', worked for Vanity Fair between 1885 and 1894 and later between 1902 and 1903, producing 55 cartoons.

Victorian Artists of the Vanity Fair Magazine


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