“E H Shepard at Punch 1907 – 1952”*

*exhibition at Chris Beetles Gallery, Ryder Street, London, 16 July – 10 August 2019.

“Shepard published his first two cartoons in Punch in 1907, and worked for the magazine for almost 50 years. In 1921, he joined the staff, and made a variety of contributions that, during the 1920s, included many beautifully-observed social cartoons. Eventually succeeding Leonard Raven Hill as Second Cartoonist (1935-45) and Bernard Partridge as Cartoonist (1945-49), he produced astute political cartoons, especially during the Second World War. Even when he handed over the position as Cartoonist to Leslie Illingworth, he continued to contribute to Punch for another four years.

Shepard left Punch only when sacked by the incoming editor, Malcolm Muggeridge, who failed to recognise that he was the most dynamic contributor of his generation. He was better appreciated by R G G Price, who wrote A History of Punch (1957). He understood that,

‘Shepard’s work was distinguished by movement. Compare any of his drawings of any period with the usual Punch drawing. He does not seem to have depended on a studio pose or a diagrammatic composition. One feels the studies for the pictures were made on a wind-ruffled sketching-block … Above all he was thinking in terms of the dance. With Shepard the rest of Punch began to look static.’ “.

Wikipedia: “Many regional variants of Pulcinella were developed as the character diffused across Europe. From its east to west coasts, Europeans strongly identified with the tired, witty “everyman” that Pulcinella represented. In many later adaptations, Pulcinella was portrayed as a puppet, as commedia dell’arte-style theatre did not continue to be popular throughout all of the continent over time. He was said to evolve into “Mr. Punch” in England. The key half of Punch and Judy, he is recognized as one of the most important British icons in history.”

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