SHERRIFFS (ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS) (1906-1960)

Sherriffs

Robert Stewart Sherriffs (1906-1960)


Best known as film caricaturist for
Punch, R S read more...

Sherriffs
Robert Stewart Sherriffs (1906-1960)

Best known as film caricaturist for
Punch, R S Sherriffs specialised in effective abstracted ink drawings of celebrity, in which the abstraction always retains a likeness.

R S Sherriffs was born in Arbroath, Scotland on 13 February 1906, one of three sons of an Arbroath flax merchant. He attended the local Arbroath High School and, encouraged by his family to develop his talents in art and music, became an Arts medallist. An accomplished musician, he even considered a career as a professional pianist, but an intense loathing of Bach and Mozart and his increasing interest in art prevented it.

Sherriffs studied art and heraldic design at Edinburgh College of Arts, and later found that the discipline of heraldic composition could be well adapted to caricature, once saying ‘I regarded caricatures as designs and the expressions on faces merely as changes in basic patterns’ (Bryant 2000, page 205). His approach to caricature was calligraphic and he preferred working in brush to pen, using Chinese inks for colour illustrations.

Leaving Edinburgh for London in 1926, Sherriffs went to live in Holland Park Road and spent his first weeks in the capital at the theatre and cinema, seeing everything he could – including
Ben Hur thirteen and a half times – until he ran out of money. He began work in advertising, drawing for commercial studios, however he found it tedious and unappealing, and started to send examples of caricatures to magazines. This was to be an enterprising move, as Sherriffs’ lucky break came when the editor of the Bystander accepted and published his drawing of the actor John Barrymore. It was spotted by the writer Beverley Nichols, who was at that time writing a series of celebrity profiles under the pseudonym ‘Woad’. On the basis of the Barrymore caricature, Nichols asked Sherriffs to illustrate his column, which led to regular work for The Sketch and eventually to his becoming its film and theatre caricaturist from 1930 onwards.

In 1930, Sherriffs also branched into book illustration with
The Life and Death of Tamburlaine the Great, which was admired by Edmund Dulac, who greatly influenced Sherriffs. A review of Tamburlaine proclaimed Sherriffs as the new Aubrey Beardsley.

Before long, Sherriffs was contributing to various magazines, including
Theatre World, Pall Mall, The Strand Magazine and John O’London. He also contributed to Nash’s magazine in the 1930s and to The Radio Times from 1927. When Arthur Watts was tragically killed in a car crash in 1935, Sherriffs took over the illustration of the Radio Times series ‘Both Sides of the Microphone’ submitting as many as five drawings a week until 1940.

During the Second World War, Sherriffs served in the tank regiment in the Royal Armoured Corps, making drawings for education and aircraft recognition. In 1944, he wrote a comic novel,
Salute if you Must, based on his experiences. After the war he found fewer outlets for his work –having been blitzed in 1941, The Sketch was temporarily inoperational, and the use of photography was becoming more popular in magazines. Perhaps as a result of this, Sherriffs spent more time on other projects and illustrated several more books, the most significant being The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of 1947, which, along with Tamburlaine the Great, demonstrates the best example of his style.

In 1948, Sherriffs succeeded James Dowd as film caricaturist on
Punch, a position he continued until 1960. He also applied to follow William Dyson on the Daily Herald, eventually losing out to George Whitelaw, some considering his humour not aggressive enough for a political caricaturist.

Other work included illustrations for the
Evening News, covers for Men Only, and advertisements for Four Square Tobacco and Guinness. He also designed menus for Masonic dinners and for the Savage Club, of which he was a member, and was invited to paint murals for the boardroom at Guinness’ Park Royal brewery, though they unfortunately no longer exist.

Although a private man, Sherriffs received lots of fan mail, particularly during his career at
Punch, even if some was intended for the playwright and novelist, R C Sherriff, forcing him to reply politely but increasingly wearily, ‘I did not write Journey’s End, in 1928 or subsequently’.

Sherriffs worked independently throughout his life to create drawings and designs intending to put together an exhibition but, after being diagnosed with cancer, he set fire to all his work before being admitted to hospital. Sherriffs died on 26 December 1960 at the age of 54.

His work is represented in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery.

ComediansTheatricalPretty WomenCinema
CartoonsArts & Performing ArtsPortraitsCricket
TheatreMusicCaricaturesBoxing
Writing & JournalismFilmIllustrations 
THE SQUARE RING
'DEAKON' – ALF HINES/'WHITEY' – GEORGE ROSE/'KID CURTIS' – ROBERT BEATTY/'ROWDIE' – BILL TRAVERS/'HAPPY' – BILL OWEN by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THE SQUARE RING 'DEAKON' – ALF HINES/'WHITEY' – GEORGE ROSE/'KID CURTIS' – ROBERT BEATTY/'ROWDIE' – BILL TRAVERS/'HAPPY' – BILL OWEN

JOHNNY CONCHO
'JOHNNY CONCHO'   FRANK SINATRA  by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

JOHNNY CONCHO 'JOHNNY CONCHO' FRANK SINATRA

ANNA LUCASTA
'DANNY JOHNSON'   SAMMY DAVIS JUNIOR
'ANNA'   EARTHA KITT by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

ANNA LUCASTA 'DANNY JOHNSON'  SAMMY DAVIS JUNIOR 'ANNA' EARTHA KITT

LILI
'LESLIE CARON AS "LILI" WITH "THE GIANT" AND "CARROT TOP", PUPPETS OF HER ACQUAINTANCE' by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

LILI 'LESLIE CARON AS "LILI" WITH "THE GIANT" AND "CARROT TOP", PUPPETS OF HER ACQUAINTANCE'

COWBOY
'TOM REECE'   GLENN FORD by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

COWBOY 'TOM REECE' GLENN FORD

THE LAW AND JAKE WADE
'HOLLISTER'   RICHARD WIDMARK/'WADE'   ROBERT TAYLOR by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THE LAW AND JAKE WADE 'HOLLISTER'  RICHARD WIDMARK/'WADE'  ROBERT TAYLOR

MILES (IN CHARACTER) by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

MILES (IN CHARACTER)

NOEL COWARD AS PAUL, DUC DE CHAUCIGNY-VARENNE IN 'CONVERSATION PIECE' by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

NOEL COWARD AS PAUL, DUC DE CHAUCIGNY-VARENNE IN 'CONVERSATION PIECE'

MODIFIED RAPTURE
'JANEY JENKINS'   DORA BRYAN/'JACK HARDACRE   ROBERT DONAT
[THE CURE OF LOVE] by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

MODIFIED RAPTURE 'JANEY JENKINS'  DORA BRYAN/'JACK HARDACRE  ROBERT DONAT [THE CURE OF LOVE]

THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE COMPOSER OF THE MUSIC OF 'CARELESS RAPTURE,' AT DRURY LANE by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE COMPOSER OF THE MUSIC OF 'CARELESS RAPTURE,' AT DRURY LANE

THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE AUTHOR OF 'CARELESS RAPTURE' AT DRURY LANE by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE AUTHOR OF 'CARELESS RAPTURE' AT DRURY LANE

'HOME AND BEAUTY,' THE CORONATION REVUE AT THE ADELPHI by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

'HOME AND BEAUTY,' THE CORONATION REVUE AT THE ADELPHI

THESE SKETCHES ILLUSTRATE THE SECOND PROGRAMME OF 'TONIGHT AT 8.30,' AT THE PHOENIX by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THESE SKETCHES ILLUSTRATE THE SECOND PROGRAMME OF 'TONIGHT AT 8.30,' AT THE PHOENIX

THE ENCHANTED PROFILE OF VERA BARNOVA (VERNA ZORINA)
 AGAINST WHOSE CHARM IMPRESARIOS, MUSICIANS, BALLET-DANCERS, BANKERS, AND QUITE ORDINARY MEN ARE SIMPLY POWERLESS, IS A SHERRIFF'S IMPRESSION FROM 'ON YOUR TOES,' AT THE PALACE THEATRE by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THE ENCHANTED PROFILE OF VERA BARNOVA (VERNA ZORINA) AGAINST WHOSE CHARM IMPRESARIOS, MUSICIANS, BALLET-DANCERS, BANKERS, AND QUITE ORDINARY MEN ARE SIMPLY POWERLESS, IS A SHERRIFF'S IMPRESSION FROM 'ON YOUR TOES,' AT THE PALACE THEATRE

'REX V PARADINE'
'ANTHONY KEANE', A PASSIONATE BARRISTER   GREGORY PECK
'ANDRE LATOUR', AN UNFAITHFUL STEWARD   LOUIS JOURDAN
'LADY HORFIELD', A FEARFUL WIFE   ETHEL BARRYMORE
'LORD HORFIELD', A SATANIC JUDGE   CHARLES LAUGHTON
 by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

'REX V PARADINE' 'ANTHONY KEANE', A PASSIONATE BARRISTER GREGORY PECK 'ANDRE LATOUR', AN UNFAITHFUL STEWARD  LOUIS JOURDAN 'LADY HORFIELD', A FEARFUL WIFE ETHEL BARRYMORE 'LORD HORFIELD', A SATANIC JUDGE CHARLES LAUGHTON

THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS
'DAN KEHOE'   CLARK GABLE by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS 'DAN KEHOE'  CLARK GABLE

AMBUSH
UNNAMED CAST OF THOUSANDS by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

AMBUSH UNNAMED CAST OF THOUSANDS

GOLOBRAI SIPAHIMALANI RAMCHAND by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

GOLOBRAI SIPAHIMALANI RAMCHAND

THE JOURNEY
'COLONEL SUROV'   YUL BRYNNER by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THE JOURNEY 'COLONEL SUROV' YUL BRYNNER

THE INTRUDER
'EX-COLONEL MERTON'   JACK HAWKINS by ROBERT STEWART SHERRIFFS

THE INTRUDER 'EX-COLONEL MERTON' JACK HAWKINS