An Improbable Servant, 1920
F H Townsend (1868-1920)
Cartoon taken from a disbound copy of the Punch Almanack, 1920
In a cream conservation grade mount (matt)
In very good condition, as illustrated
Cartoon: 13 x 17.6 cm (visible); mount: 20.4 x 25.4 cm (8" x 10")
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F H Townsend was born in London and studied at the Lambeth School of Art alongside Leonard Raven Hill. A prolific cartoonist and illustrator, Townsend contributed to many publications in the late nineteenth century and was published in Punch from 1896. During Sir Francis Burnand’s editorship (who according to Price (1957), ‘did not consider he could be expected to have much technical knowledge. Like the average reader, he felt he could judge the realism of the drawing.’) Townsend was appointed the magazine’s first Art Editor in 1905.
‘Townsend was a shy, kindly man who thought that nobody could tell really whether anything was funny or not. He used to say, ‘Sometimes comes funny, sometimes doesn’t.’ His conception of his job was that his main duty was keeping the inner ring of artists fully employed.’ (Price, 1957).
In addition to his illustrative work, Townsend was a noted etcher becoming an associate member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers in 1915. His final unfinished drawing was published in Punch shortly after his death in 1920.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Sources and further reading
Bryant M and Heneage S (1994), Dictionary of British Cartoonists and Caricaturists 1730-1980, Scolar Press
Johnson J and Greutzner A (1999), British Artists 1880-1940, Antique Collectors’ Club
Mackenzie I, (1988), British Prints, Antique Collectors’ Club
Price R G G (1957), A History of Punch, Collins
Waters G M (1975), Dictionary of British Artists 1900-1950, Eastbourne Fine Art