GEORGE DU MAURIER (1834-1896)

George Du Maurier

George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896)


Equally talented as artist and writer, George Du Maurier developed a cartoon format for
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George Du Maurier
George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896)

Equally talented as artist and writer, George Du Maurier developed a cartoon format for
Punch that balanced text and image in order to record and satirise the fashions and foibles of society.

George Du Maurier was born on 6 March 1834 in the Champs-Elysées, Paris, and baptised in May 1835 at Rotherfield, Sussex. He spent his childhood, between England and the Continent, in an atmosphere of precarious gentility. His father came from a French family of master glassblowers but, obsessed with social status, gave himself the aristocratic name of Du Maurier. As a novelist, George Du Maurier would rehearse the events of his early life in general but, as a cartoonist for Punch, he would concentrate on dissecting the pretensions and foibles of the society in which he lived, and to which his family had been prey.

Though Du Maurier failed his baccalauréat, his father was determined that he should take up a steady profession. So, in 1851, he enrolled at the Birkbeck Chemical Laboratory, University College, London. After a wasted year, he left to work as an analytical chemist, but spent his most profitable hours drawing at the British Museum so that, on the death of his father in 1856, he returned to Paris to study art. He spent a sociable year at the Atelier Gleyre as part of the English group, befriending Edward Poynter and meeting James McNeill Whistler, and then moved to Antwerp to further his studies at the city’s Academy of Arts, under Jacob Van Lerius. The sudden loss of the sight of his left eye, however, led to a period of great uncertainty as to his future career. Joined by his mother, he lived first at Malines and later at Düsseldorf, desperately consulting oculists while still attempting to work. In 1860, he finally decided to settle in London and, encouraged by the example of John Leech, tried to earn his living as an illustrator.

In London, Du Maurier reacquainted himself with Whistler and members of the English group, and became immersed in an enlightened social circle while beginning to contribute – as artist and writer – to such leading periodicals as
Once a Week, Good Words and The Cornhill Magazine. By evolving his own style from the work of the finest of contemporary illustrators, he developed the extensive repertoire of immediately recognisable motifs and gestures on which he drew increasingly for the satires and parodies that he published in Punch.
Du Maurier became a regular member of the
Punch team in 1864, when John Tenniel and Charles Keene both voted for him to succeed the recently deceased Leech as observer of society. In its pages he developed a very literary type of cartoon, which married often- extensive texts to subtle drawing and displayed an understanding of wider cultural issues. This reached its peak in his satires of the upper middle class attempting to follow the fashions of the Aesthetic Movement. Through his career, he moved from a position of Bohemianism – from which he defended the Pre- Raphaelites and tolerated Whistler – to one that, at worst, revealed ‘his essential snobbery, conservatism and loathing of change’ (Ormond 1969, page 248), and inevitably lost him many friends.

Though Du Maurier has been dubbed as ‘naturally lazy’*, he had to provide for a wife and three children without straining his one good eye. For much of his career, he could work safely for only two hours a day, and during the 1890s considered retiring from illustration in order to become a professional lecturer. By that time, he needed to work with a magnifying glass in order to complete his regular work for
Punch.

But as his graphic talent failed, he found new, and phenomenal, success as the novelist of
Peter Ibbetson (1891), The Martian (1896) and particularly Trilby (1894), in which he returned to the youthful extremes of Bohemian life that he had eschewed in his cartoons. He died at home in Oxford Square, Paddington, on 8 October 1896. A memorial show was held at the Fine Art Society in the February of the following year.

*Simon Houfe,
The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1996, page 124

His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A.

Further reading:
Leonée Ormond, ‘Du Maurier, George Louis Palmella Busson (1834-1896)’, in H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds),
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, Volume 17, pages 177-180; Leonée Ormond, George Du Maurier, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969; Leonée Ormond, ‘Du Maurier, George (Louis Palmella Busson) (b Paris, 6 March 1834; d London, 8 Oct 1896)’, in Jane Turner (ed), The Dictionary of Art, London: Macmillan, 1996, vol 9, page 384

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PAST AND PRESENT: IN THE SIXTIES by GEORGE DU MAURIER

PAST AND PRESENT: IN THE SIXTIES

THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID
TOMLINSON: 'GOODBYE, MISS ELEANORA ...'
MISS ELEANORA: 'BUT YOU'VE ALREADY SAID GOODBYE TO ME, MR TOMLINSON!'
TOMLINSON (WHO IS ALWAYS READY WITH SOME PRETTY SPEECH): 'HAVE I REALLY? WELL, ONE CAN'T DO A PLEASANT T by GEORGE DU MAURIER

THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID TOMLINSON: 'GOODBYE, MISS ELEANORA ...' MISS ELEANORA: 'BUT YOU'VE ALREADY SAID GOODBYE TO ME, MR TOMLINSON!' TOMLINSON (WHO IS ALWAYS READY WITH SOME PRETTY SPEECH): 'HAVE I REALLY? WELL, ONE CAN'T DO A PLEASANT T

MAMMA: 'NOT KISS PROFESSOR JACKSON, LUCY? WHY NOT?'  
LUCY: 'HE'S GOT SUCH A STUBBLY BEARD MAMMA, AND IT PRICKS SO! NOW I DON'T MIND CAPTAIN THOMPSON'S MOUSTACHE! DO YOU?' by GEORGE DU MAURIER

MAMMA: 'NOT KISS PROFESSOR JACKSON, LUCY? WHY NOT?' LUCY: 'HE'S GOT SUCH A STUBBLY BEARD MAMMA, AND IT PRICKS SO! NOW I DON'T MIND CAPTAIN THOMPSON'S MOUSTACHE! DO YOU?'

HARDLY CONSISTENT!
BROWN (TO SMITH): 'UGH! THERE GOES JONES, AS USUAL, WITH A CROWD OF ADORING DUCHESSES HANGING ON HIS LIPS, AND GROVELLING AT HIS FEET, AND FOLLOWING HIM ALL OVER THE ROOM!  HOW DISGUSTING IT IS TO SEE A MAN OF TALENT TOADYING UP TO THE  by GEORGE DU MAURIER

HARDLY CONSISTENT! BROWN (TO SMITH): 'UGH! THERE GOES JONES, AS USUAL, WITH A CROWD OF ADORING DUCHESSES HANGING ON HIS LIPS, AND GROVELLING AT HIS FEET, AND FOLLOWING HIM ALL OVER THE ROOM! HOW DISGUSTING IT IS TO SEE A MAN OF TALENT TOADYING UP TO THE

THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID
HOSTESS (WHO HAS JUST SUNG). 'ARE YOU QUITE SURE YOU DON'T SING, CAPTAIN LOVELL?'
CAPTAIN LOVELL. 'I ASSURE YOU   I'VE NO VOICE WHATEVER   UNFORTUNATELY   I'M A LISTENER!' by GEORGE DU MAURIER

THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID HOSTESS (WHO HAS JUST SUNG). 'ARE YOU QUITE SURE YOU DON'T SING, CAPTAIN LOVELL?' CAPTAIN LOVELL. 'I ASSURE YOU I'VE NO VOICE WHATEVER UNFORTUNATELY I'M A LISTENER!'

WHY SHOULDN'T GIRTON RINK, WHEN CAMBRIDGE ROWS? by GEORGE DU MAURIER

WHY SHOULDN'T GIRTON RINK, WHEN CAMBRIDGE ROWS?

THE MAKER'S PAL
'HE WAS MAGNIFICENTLY ATTIRED IN, I THINK, THE CHECK SUIT OF THE LARGEST PATTERN AND VIVIDEST COLOURS I HAD EVER BEHELD' by GEORGE DU MAURIER

THE MAKER'S PAL 'HE WAS MAGNIFICENTLY ATTIRED IN, I THINK, THE CHECK SUIT OF THE LARGEST PATTERN AND VIVIDEST COLOURS I HAD EVER BEHELD'

SEBASTIAN, I LEAVE YOU AND MR DENHAM TO EACH OTHER by GEORGE DU MAURIER

SEBASTIAN, I LEAVE YOU AND MR DENHAM TO EACH OTHER

SOCIAL AGONIES
HERR BAUER. 'ACH! MY LITTLE VRENT, MY POOTS ARE NOT MUTTY! VY ARE YOUR TRYING TO PRUSH DEM?'
TOMMY. 'MAYN'T I? MUMMIE SAYS YOU WANT POLISH!' by GEORGE DU MAURIER

SOCIAL AGONIES HERR BAUER. 'ACH! MY LITTLE VRENT, MY POOTS ARE NOT MUTTY! VY ARE YOUR TRYING TO PRUSH DEM?' TOMMY. 'MAYN'T I? MUMMIE SAYS YOU WANT POLISH!'

A SENSITIVE EAR
INTELLIGENT BRITON: 'BUT WE HAVE NO THEATRE, NO ACTORS WORTHY OF THE NAME, MADEMOISELLE! WHY, THE ENGLISH DELIVERY OF BLANK VERSE IS SIMPLY TORTURE TO AN EAR ACCUSTOMED TO HEAR IT GIVEN ITS FULL BEAUTY AND SIGNIFICANCE BY A BERNHARDT OR A  by GEORGE DU MAURIER

A SENSITIVE EAR INTELLIGENT BRITON: 'BUT WE HAVE NO THEATRE, NO ACTORS WORTHY OF THE NAME, MADEMOISELLE! WHY, THE ENGLISH DELIVERY OF BLANK VERSE IS SIMPLY TORTURE TO AN EAR ACCUSTOMED TO HEAR IT GIVEN ITS FULL BEAUTY AND SIGNIFICANCE BY A BERNHARDT OR A

PAIRING AND REPAIRING
THE REASONS INDUCING TWO YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENTER THE HOLY BONDS OF MATRIMONY HAVE HITHERTO, AS A RULE, BEEN LOVE, INTEREST, INTELLECTUAL SYMPATHY, COMPATIBILITY OF TEMPER, PARITY OF SOCIAL RANK, AND SO FORTH. NOW, MR PUNCH (WHO IS AN I by GEORGE DU MAURIER

PAIRING AND REPAIRING THE REASONS INDUCING TWO YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENTER THE HOLY BONDS OF MATRIMONY HAVE HITHERTO, AS A RULE, BEEN LOVE, INTEREST, INTELLECTUAL SYMPATHY, COMPATIBILITY OF TEMPER, PARITY OF SOCIAL RANK, AND SO FORTH. NOW, MR PUNCH (WHO IS AN I

HOW THE DISTINGUISHED AMATEUR'S REPUTATIONS ARE MADE, SOMETIMES.
HERR SILBERMUND (THE GREAT PIANIST) TO MRS BONAMY TATLER:   'ACH! LADY CRICHTON HAS, FOR BAINTING, ZE MOST REMARRGAPLE CHENIUS!  LOOK AT ZIS!  IT IS EQUAL TO FELASQUEZ!'
M LANGUEDOR (THE FAM by GEORGE DU MAURIER

HOW THE DISTINGUISHED AMATEUR'S REPUTATIONS ARE MADE, SOMETIMES. HERR SILBERMUND (THE GREAT PIANIST) TO MRS BONAMY TATLER: 'ACH! LADY CRICHTON HAS, FOR BAINTING, ZE MOST REMARRGAPLE CHENIUS! LOOK AT ZIS! IT IS EQUAL TO FELASQUEZ!' M LANGUEDOR (THE FAM

WHAT WE MAY COME TO IN TIME
MRS BRABASOUR VAVAZON (READING EXTRACT FROM JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, MAY, 1878, PP 480-1). 'THE BODIES OF THE MOTU GIRLS IN NEW GUINEA ARE COVERED WITH TATTOO MARKS RESEMBLING FINE LACE GARMENTS ... IT HAS THE APPE by GEORGE DU MAURIER

WHAT WE MAY COME TO IN TIME MRS BRABASOUR VAVAZON (READING EXTRACT FROM JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, MAY, 1878, PP 480-1). 'THE BODIES OF THE MOTU GIRLS IN NEW GUINEA ARE COVERED WITH TATTOO MARKS RESEMBLING FINE LACE GARMENTS ... IT HAS THE APPE

AFFILIATING AN AESTHETE
PILCOX, A PROMISING YOUNG PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMIST, HAS MODELLED FROM MEMORY AN HEROIC GROUP, IN WHICH MRS CIMABUE BROWN IS REPRESENTED AS THE MUSE OF THIS CENTURY, CROWNING POSTLETHWAITE AND MAUDLE AS THE TWIN GODS OF ITS POETRY AND by GEORGE DU MAURIER

AFFILIATING AN AESTHETE PILCOX, A PROMISING YOUNG PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMIST, HAS MODELLED FROM MEMORY AN HEROIC GROUP, IN WHICH MRS CIMABUE BROWN IS REPRESENTED AS THE MUSE OF THIS CENTURY, CROWNING POSTLETHWAITE AND MAUDLE AS THE TWIN GODS OF ITS POETRY AND

A STRAIGHT TIP
  CAN'T SAY I QUITE LIKE THE CUT OF THAT SUIT OF YOURS, GOVERNOR!
  WHAT! WHY, CONFOUND IT, SIR! MY TAILORS THE BEST IN LONDON!
  AH   DESSAY   BUT YOU SHOULD TRY OUR CHAP DOWN AT ETON   HE'S THE MAN. AND YOU MIGHT JUST MENTION MY NAME, YOU by GEORGE DU MAURIER

A STRAIGHT TIP CAN'T SAY I QUITE LIKE THE CUT OF THAT SUIT OF YOURS, GOVERNOR! WHAT! WHY, CONFOUND IT, SIR! MY TAILORS THE BEST IN LONDON! AH DESSAY BUT YOU SHOULD TRY OUR CHAP DOWN AT ETON HE'S THE MAN. AND YOU MIGHT JUST MENTION MY NAME, YOU

-"AND SO YOU LEARN DANCING BOB!  AND HOW DO YOU LIKE VALSING?" 
- "OH, IT'S NOT BAD! I CAN MANAGE VERY WELL BY MYSELF- BUT I THINK A GIRL'S RATHER IN THE WAY!" by GEORGE DU MAURIER

-"AND SO YOU LEARN DANCING BOB! AND HOW DO YOU LIKE VALSING?" - "OH, IT'S NOT BAD! I CAN MANAGE VERY WELL BY MYSELF- BUT I THINK A GIRL'S RATHER IN THE WAY!"

THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID
'WILL YOU DANCE WITH ME, MISS LEDBITTER?'   'THANK YOU. BUT I AM NOT DANCING TO-NIGHT!'   'WELL I AM UNLUCKY!   I'VE POSITIVELY ASKED EVERY LADY IN THE ROOM, AND CAN'T GET A PARTNER OF ANY SORT OR DESCRIPTION!' by GEORGE DU MAURIER

THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID 'WILL YOU DANCE WITH ME, MISS LEDBITTER?' 'THANK YOU. BUT I AM NOT DANCING TO-NIGHT!' 'WELL I AM UNLUCKY! I'VE POSITIVELY ASKED EVERY LADY IN THE ROOM, AND CAN'T GET A PARTNER OF ANY SORT OR DESCRIPTION!'

INSTEAD OF SMILING BACK THE CHILD UTTERED A SCREAM OF TERROR by GEORGE DU MAURIER

INSTEAD OF SMILING BACK THE CHILD UTTERED A SCREAM OF TERROR

MRS PONSONBY DE TOMKYNS IS MOVED TO SPEAK HER MIND
LADY CLARA ROBINSON (NEE VERE DE VERE). 'GOOD NIGHT, MRS TOMKYNS, AND THANK YOU FOR ASKING SIR PETER AND ME TO MEET SUCH DELIGHTFUL PEOPLE!   ALL SO CLEVER, AND ORIGINAL, AND CELEBRATED! I GET SO TIRED OF by GEORGE DU MAURIER

MRS PONSONBY DE TOMKYNS IS MOVED TO SPEAK HER MIND LADY CLARA ROBINSON (NEE VERE DE VERE). 'GOOD NIGHT, MRS TOMKYNS, AND THANK YOU FOR ASKING SIR PETER AND ME TO MEET SUCH DELIGHTFUL PEOPLE! ALL SO CLEVER, AND ORIGINAL, AND CELEBRATED! I GET SO TIRED OF

SOCIAL AGONIES
YOUNG HUSBAND. 'YES, AUNTY, I FLATTER MYSELF THE ROOM LOOKS PRETTY WELL   BUT, MY DEAR ELLEN, WHERE, IN THE NAME OF FORTUNE, DID YOU GET THOSE ATROCIOUS. VASES?   THEY'RE A PERFECT EYESORE!'
YOUNG WIFE. 'MY DEAR FRED! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING! W by GEORGE DU MAURIER

SOCIAL AGONIES YOUNG HUSBAND. 'YES, AUNTY, I FLATTER MYSELF THE ROOM LOOKS PRETTY WELL BUT, MY DEAR ELLEN, WHERE, IN THE NAME OF FORTUNE, DID YOU GET THOSE ATROCIOUS. VASES? THEY'RE A PERFECT EYESORE!' YOUNG WIFE. 'MY DEAR FRED! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING! W

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