Spy’s Caricature of Lord Vowchurch

Jenkins knows of Lord Vowchurch, Mrs. Conyers father, both from circulating stories about him, “one of those men oddly prevalent in Victorian times who sought personal power through buffoonery,” and from a caricature by Spy, which had appeared in Vanity Fair and now hung in the billiard-room at the Conyers’ home, Thrubworth [ALM 8/4].

Sir Leslie Ward (1851-1922) drew 1325 cartoons for Vanity Fair between 1873 and 1911, signing them as “Draw” or “Spy.” Ward began exhibiting his work in 1867 while at Eton. Lithographs of many of his portraits sold widely. Vanity Fair has been the title of at least 5 different magazines, but, of course, Jenkins need not specify that he is referring to the British Vanity Fair, which was published weekly from 1868 to 1914. A full page lithographic contemporary portrait was a central feature of most editions, and Ward did so many of these that they became know as ‘Spy cartoons.’

George Biddell Airy Spy Vanity Fair 13 Nov 1875 public domain from Wikimedia Commons

George Biddell Airy
Vanity Fair 13 Nov 1875
public domain from Wikimedia Commons

We display Spy’s caricature of George Biddel Airy because Airy, like Lord Vowchurch,  has a grey frock-coat, top hat, and side whiskers.  In the caricature, Jenkins sees “the bad temper for which he was as notorious at home as for his sparkle in Society, neatly suggested under the side whiskers by the lines of his mouth.”

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