Sunday, May 3, 2015

Alfred Tennyson in Caricature

Tennyson with Browning and Swinburne 27 December 1884


In one 1884 Punch cartoon Tennyson, Browning, and Swinburne are shown as “Christmas Waits” with Tennyson reading from his Becket. The caption-verse beneath suggests the fairly common critique that the better-known poets were inspired at least as much by money as by the muse:

Oh, bless you, Gentlemen, whose looks
Are very far from frowning,
Pay cash, and buy the latest books
Of Tennyson, Swinburne, Browning! 

Have We Forgotton Gordon from Punch 5 August 1891

 Lord Tennyson, under this heading, writes appealing to Englishmen for subscriptions to the funds of the "Gordon Boys' Home" at Woking, which is in want of 40,000 pounds. Contributions should be sent to the Treasurer, General Sir Dighton Probyn, V.C., Marlborough House, Pall Mall

    Mr. Tennyson Reading “In Memoriam” to His Sovereign, 1904, by Max Beerbohm 

 “In 1862, a year after the death of the Prince Consort, Queen Victoria wished Alfred Tennyson to call and see her when she was next at Osborne. The visit, which took place on 14 April of that year, sparked Max’s famous drawing captioned, ‘Mr Tennyson, reading “In Memoriam” to his Sovereign’, published in The Poet’s Corner (1904). It shows a tiny gesticulating poet declaiming his famous elegy in an immense, sparsely furnished room in Osborne, the royal mansion in the Isle of Wight, and at an enormous distance from him, an even tinier Queen in widow’s weeds, listening and reminiscing about Albert, whose portrait appears above the mantelpiece.” Max Beerbohm's Mischievous Wit: A Literary Entertainment By Jacobus Gerhardus Riewald, pg. 99


Woolner at Farringford, 1857 dated 1917, by Sir Max Beerbohm. Graphite and watercolor on paper. Tate, UK

"The only other major drawing Max did of Tennyson represents Thomas Woolner sculpturing the Laureate’s bust, and Emily, the Great Man’s wife, asking him ‘when do you begin modeling his halo?’ Max Beerbohm's Mischievous Wit: A Literary Entertainment By Jacobus Gerhardus Riewald, pg. 99

 

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