Friday, 10 February 2012


As it cannot have escaped your notice we are in the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee: sixty (not-always entirely glorious) years of our second Elizabethan Age.

A novel twist on the current celebrations is to be found at The Cartoon Museum in London with an exhibition of mostly quite loving – but sometimes refreshingly critical and even, occasionally, caustic – cartoons focusing on the reign of HMQEII.

Entitled Her Maj, the exhibition is itself a sixty-year retrospective of the work of the British cartoonist from respectful (and whimsical) views of the young Elizabeth as Princess and bride by Ernest H (Winnie-the-Pooh) Shepard, via stalwarts of Fleet Street's comic draughtsmen such as Horner, Cummings, Mansbridge and Giles to those irreverently naughty boys at the drawing board, Rushton and Steadman (along with Spitting Images' Fluck and Law), and thence to their even more iconoclastic successors of the likes of Steve Bell and Martin Rowson.

The star of the exhibition is, without question, the great Trog (Wally Fawkes) who's superb mastery of black and white medium of the classic newspaper cartoon along with colour covers for Punch such as the Pearly Queen and Consort above and the royal landlady below, run through the length of the exhibition.

The subject matter ranges the gamut of six decades of news stories – trivial or momentous – that have grabbed the headlines and caught the cartoonist's eye: royal visits, pay-packets, yachts, dogs, bedroom-interlopers, children, marriages - and divorces.

As Kennth Baker pointed out in opening the exhibition, Her Majesty has fared a lot better at the hands of the cartoonists than some of her ancestors, but there are still those painful recollections of the 'annus horribilis' and its aftermath.

As always with the Cartoon Museum exhibitions, the selection of images is diverse and diverting, thought-provoking and smile-eliciting as the following sampler demonstrates...

Up the Mall. An everyday story of Royal folk.
Private Eye, 1968 © Ralph Steadman

Colin Whittock, Northern Echo, May 2011

Dave Brown, Independent, 18 May 2011
© Dave Brown/Independent

Honeysett, The Oldie, 2008 © Martin Honeysett

Her Maj: 60 Years of Unofficial Portraits of the Queen remains on show until 8 April at The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:30-17:30 and Sunday 12:00-17:30); Closed: Mondays. Admission: £5.50 Adults, £4 Concessions, £3 Students with valid student ID
Free to Under-18s, Art Fund Members and Friends of the Cartoon Museum.

Special Her Maj Events:

15 March 18:30-19:30 Persistent Reign: The British Royal Family in Cartoons 1952-2012
Dr Nicholas Hiley, Director of the British Cartoon Archive. The changing image of the Royals (and in particular Her Maj) in the 20th Century.

29 March
18:30-19:30 Lèse majesté: An Unofficial History of the British Monarchy
Curator Anita O'Brien on how the cartoonists have viewed royalty from George III to Prince William.

Tickets: £4.50, £3.50, £3.00 Advance booking recommended:
Telephone 0207 580 8155; email:

Steve Bell 'If…' The Guardian, 22 November 2010
© Steve Bell

1 comment:

SharonM said...

I wonder if some of them border on treason! Looks like a good exhibition - if you happen to be living in or visiting London!