LEECH, After John (1817-1864)
[The female blondin outdone! Grand morning performance on the narrow plank by the darling xxxx]
London: Thos. Agnew & Sons, no date but 1865-1866]. Chromolithograph, on original mount. Title and credits trimmed from bottom margin of mount. Sheet size: 16 7/8 x 24 3/4 inches.
A delightful image of three fashionable young ladies and their younger siblings, all enjoying the benefits of a day beside the sea.
An unusually large scale work from the famous illustrator of Dickens, Surtees, Thackeray and others. In 1862 John Leech 'essayed a series of so-called "sketches in oil," which were exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, in June and the following months. These consisted of copies of a selection of his Punch drawings, which had been ingeniously enlarged, transferred to canvas, and coloured lightly in oils. As the artist advanced with this process he considerably improved it in detail, and his exhibition was a great success (it brought him nearly 5,000 pounds), to which a friendly notice by Thackeray (Times, 21 June) not a little contributed.... His gift for seizing fugitive expression and for mentally registering transitory situation was extraordinary. Long practice had made it unerring in its way, and Leech perhaps wisely concentrated his attention upon these points. Yet he possessed, like Keene, a marvellous faculty for landscape, and in many cases the backgrounds to his sketches are in themselves of striking beauty. No words define his general position in art better than Mr. Ruskin's: His work contains the finest definition and natural history of the classes of our society; the kindest and subtlest analysis of its foibles, the tenderest flattery of its pretty and well-bred ways, with which the modesty of subservient genius ever immortalised or amused careless masters. (DNB). Here a teenage girl in a great, round crinoline skirt that balloons in the wind walks a thin plank that leads to a bathing booth, while her friend (sister?) watches impassively, the mother reads her book and the little children play oblivious to the little contest going on nearby.