I was reminded about this by Pipistrello from 'Flying with Hands'; so thank you.
Back in the mid-60's I was managing a small Art Gallery in London's Devonshire Street W1.
We specialised in early topographical watercolours, but also sold just about everything else that was pre around 1950. Modern, we didn't do.
My boss, Miklos Vilag, was a rather eccentric man, with a noticeable resemblance to Albert Einstein.
Miklos (known in English as Nicholas) oozed confidence; there was nothing he couldn't achieve, including making a deal with various Fleet Street newspapers to hold an exhibition of (and to sell) works by all the most famous cartoonists of the day.
The work involved was huge. We had to frame about 200 cartoons, totally clear the gallery of all it's regular stock, send out invitations for the Vernissage, and expect to be extremely busy for a period of two weeks.
Sadly, one name was missing from amongst our stable of cartoonists; that of Ronald Searle. Miklos really wanted to include him as he knew he was extremely saleable. He spoke with him over the phone, and RS agreed to sell about 20 works through us. As Searle lived in Paris, I was given the job of going over to see him, select the works, and bring them back.
A few days before I was due to leave, he phoned us and said he'd decided not to exhibit. I was deprived of both a trip to Paris, and of meeting the great man himself. Frankly I was extremely upset; I'd been telling everyone for weeks that I was going to meet Ronald Searle!
Anyway, amongst those who did exhibit were Vicky, Giles, Steadman, Bill Tidy, Reg Smythe, Thelwell, and many others. A superb bunch of very talented artists, and their work sold very well.
I just know you're dying to ask who sold the most. Well, it was Thelwell; mothers of small pony-riding daughters came from all corners of the earth to buy little Penelope her next birthday present.
p.s. When my boss Nicholas was on the phone, he used to 'twiddle' with his long greying hair; producing (what looked like) horns on either side of his head. He would then wander around looking like some strange animal for the rest of the day. I never said anything to him, preferring to watch people as they sniggered.
Are you saying that Nicholas was horny? No wonder that he twiddled with himself.ReplyDelete
Thank you for that. I'm always pleased to be reminded of the jokes I failed to offer!Delete
Nice and interesting post, even if I can't make a relevant comment.ReplyDelete
Not many comments to make really, other than 'poor old Cro', who didn't get to meet Ronald Searle.Delete
Cartoonists have produced some of the most wonderful, amazing and imaginative visual portrayal of ideas and words in art.ReplyDelete
I was raised on Giles cartoons, and we always had his Annual at Christmas. There was always so much in them, I love them all to this day.Delete
I have tried to draw but am useless. Cartoonists must be admired for their skill and brevity.ReplyDelete
Some of them are wonderful.Delete
Happy to have obliged :)ReplyDelete
What a great exhibition it must have been! I do love cartoons and while never a pony-type, the Thelwells always make me smile. RS did become a recluse after moving to France, so it would have been a bit of a coup if you did meet him!
It was wonderful having them all there for the opening night. I think Bill Tidy was the funniest.Delete
I still have an old Giles book or two. Grandma was a pip. Even as a youngster, I liked going through each cartoon carefully to find the sometimes less than obvious snickers.ReplyDelete
I used to have a big pile of Annuals, but I don't know if we still have them. They would be in Brighton if we do.Delete
I rather have a feeling that Ronald Searle might have been a Prisoner of war of the Japanese with my first husband.ReplyDelete
Really? I had no idea. I must look him up on wiki.Delete
Fun reading. Also, I read somewhere that Ronald Searle regretted the missed opportunity to meet with Magnon for the rest of his life.ReplyDelete
I've always thought that would have been the case!Delete
Another interesting story from your past. Another world to me. Good readingReplyDelete
Central London in the mid-60's was wonderful.... Swinging London, and all that!Delete
You reminded me if my 70s childhood here in NZ. I loved the Giles and Thelwell books, and would often drag a pile of them home from the library.ReplyDelete
I very nearly bought one of the Giles cartoons myself. It was one that The Daily Express didn't publish because they thought it too risqué. It involved Macmillan and Christine Keeler, with Macmillan saying "I've never had it so good".Delete