Memorial show of drawings at ‘Watercolours/Works On Paper Fair’ 2 – 5 February
A special “Pop Up” exhibition to mark the recent death of illustrator Ronald Searle, who passed away aged 90 at the end of last year, is scheduled to open at the Watercolour /Works on Paper exhibition at the Science Museum 2-5 February. Searle was one of Britain’s best loved illustrators. He was one of the world’s greatest satirical cartoonists with an output wide-ranging and international. Although he is probably best known for his St. Trinian’s and Molesworth characters, much his work took a much darker tone.The exhibition consists of a small display of original Searle drawings all owned by the Cartoon Museum Collection.
Ronald Searle (1920-2011) was born 3 March, 1920 in Cambridge, England into a working-class family. Drawing became a passion from an early age. From the age of 15 he was contributing weekly cartoons for the Cambridge Daily News and in 1938 won a scholarship to study at the Cambridge School of Art.In 1939 Searle enlisted in the Royal Engineers. His first cartoons were published in 1940 and the first St Trinian’s cartoon appeared in Lilliput in October 194,1 the same month he shipped out to Singapore. One month after his brigade arrived in Singapore in January 1942 the island was surrendered to the Japanese and Searle spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in camps and later on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway which cost the lives of 100,000 Asian civilians and Allied POWs. Searle was victim and observer, recording the atrocities, disease and death around him. He never stopped drawing, despite beatings, bouts of malaria and beri-beri. His return to Cambridge in October of 1945 was followed by an exhibition of his war drawings. In 1948 he married Kaye Webb, assistant editor of Lilliput 1948 saw the publication of Hurrah for St Trinian’s, his first collection of cartoons, and was followed by The Female Approach in 1949. Both featured cartoons on other subjects, but it is for the images of the unholy girls’ school that they are best remembered. For five years he was saddled with the ‘chore’ of creating mischief for the girls to get up to until, in his own 1953 Souls in Torment, he blew up the school with an atomic bomb. The girls went on to inspire a string of films.From 1949 to 1961 he produced theatre caricatures for Punch.
In the early 1950s his sketches of people and places in Paris and London appeared in the News Chronicle.The American publication Holiday magazine became a regular outlet, publishing many of his reportage drawings between 1959 and 1969. He traveled the length and breath of America and Canada as well as visiting Germany, France and Casablanca. In 1961 Life magazine sent him on assignment to Jerusalem to cover Adolf Eichmann’s trial and later that year he drew scenes on the spot beside the newly built Berlin Wall. In a most remarkably short time, Searle had become one of the foremost illustrators in England. In 1957 he was invited to America to create an animated film Energetically Yours for Standard Oil. Searle’s loose and energetic line was to influence a generation of animators including Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmations (1961). In 1973 Searle became the first non-French living artist to exhibit at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Following the exhibition he was invited to produce a series of medals for La Monnaie de Paris, or French Mint. He drew and sculpted designs in homage to old and recent masters of satire: Hogarth, Gillray, Cruikshank, Edward Lear, James Thurber and his friend André François were amongst the subjects. In September of 1975, the Searles left Paris for a new, more private life, in a village in Haute-Provence where he lived until his death.In 1961 Searle moved to Paris where he married his second wife Monica Stirling in 1967.
Throughout the ‘60s he drew a number of covers for The New Yorker and produced a number of innovative books, such as Hello – Where Did All the People Go? and The Square Egg, Hommage à Toulouse-Lautrec and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen ,and Hamburg, Secret Sketchbooks in 1970. From the mid 1960s to the 2000s hardly a year passed without a Searle exhibition in a major European or American city. In 1995 he took on a new challenge when he was asked by Le Monde to do a weekly political cartoon for the paper which he continued to do until 2007. Searle received numerous awards. In 1960 he was the first non-American cartoonist to be voted ‘Cartoonist of the Year’ and received the National Cartoonists Association’s coveted Reuben Award. He also won the NCA’s Reuben for illustration in 1986 and 1987. In 1995 he received the Cartoon Art Trust’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004 he was given a CBE and in 2007 was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the highest honour given by the French State. His 90th birthday was marked by exhibitions at the Cartoon Museum in London and by the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hanover. Visit Fair