Sir Bernard Partridge, RI NEAC (1861-1945) During a career with Punch that lasted over fifty years, Bernard Partridge produced direct, magisterial comment, founded on an academic tradition and making much use of symbolism. He was greatly respected for both his portraiture and his minute attention to detail.
Bernard Partridge was born in London on 11 October 1861, the third son and sixth child of Professor Richard Partridge FRS, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Fanny Turner. His uncle, John Partridge, was Portrait Painter Extraordinary to Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. Educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, he returned to London to complete his studies at the West London School of Art. Between 1880 and 1884, he worked as a decorator of church interiors and a stained-glass window designer.
At the same time, he also worked freelance as a cartoonist, contributing to a number of publications, such as Moonshine, Judy and The Playgoer in the late 1880s, Black & White, Illustrated Bits, Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The New Budget and The Sketch. In his youth, he also acted professionally under the name Bernard Gould, appearing in 1894 in the first performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man.
On the recommendation of George du Maurier, Partridge joined the staff of Punch in 1891 as a junior cartoonist. In 1901, he was appointed Second Cartoonist to Linley Sambourne, before succeeding Sambourne as Chief Cartoonist in 1910. Initially, he employed his sparkling draughtsmanship to create visual jokes and theatrical caricatures before focusing on political cartooning from 1899 onwards. His final cartoon for Punch was published on 18 April 1945. Between them, Partridge and his great influence Sir John Tenniel produced political cartoons for Punch for 94 years.
In addition to his work for Punch, Partridge also exhibited oils, watercolours and pastels and was elected to the membership of the New English Art Club (1893) and Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (1896). He was also a member of the Chelsea Arts Club and the Athenaeum Club. He produced advertisements for companies such as Lever Brothers and Selfridges, and during the First World War designed postcards for the Blue Cross Quarantine Kennels. Knighted in 1925, he died at his home in Kensington on 9 August 1945. He was survived by his wife, Lydia Faith, whom he had married in 1897.