(click image to enlarge)
SIGNED WITH MONOGRAM AND DATED 1886
INSCRIBED WITH TITLE AND PUBLICATION DETAILS ON ORIGINAL MOUNT
8 1/4 X 6 1/4 INCHES
PROVENANCE: MARY GREEN (NEE TENNIEL). THE ARTIST'S SISTER,
AND THENCE BY FAMILY DESCENT
ILLUSTRATED: PUNCH, 16 OCTOBER 1886, PAGE 187
EXHIBITED: 'THE ILLUSTRATORS. THE BRITISH ART OF ILLUSTRATION 1837-2012',
NOVEMBER 2012 - JANUARY 2013, NO 125
Following Conservative success in the general election of July 1886, Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-1895) became Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons under Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury. His tenure proved controversial and short lived, as ‘he regarded Liberal measures as things good and desirable in themselves; while many of his colleagues, and certainly his chief, looked upon them as so many unholy surrenders to the powers of evil’ (Winston Churchill, Lord Randolph Churchill, London: Macmillan & Co, 1906, Volume 2, page 223).
However, Tenniel suggests in his cartoon that Churchill was less than idealistic, and happy to steal his ideas from the Liberal opposition. He shows him in the guise of Jack Sheppard (1702-1724), the notorious thief and burglar, surprised by Gladstone, the Liberal leader, as a householder.
Jack Sheppard was well known through Harrison Ainsworth’s novel of that name, which was first published in 1840. It became so popular that the Lord Chancellor banned the licence of any plays with ‘Jack Sheppard’ in the title for forty years, for fear that they would encourage criminal behaviour. Following the lifting of the ban in 1880,
a number of popular theatre works were produced on the subject of Jack Sheppard, most notably the burlesque melodrama, Little Jack Sheppard by Henry Pottinger Stephens and William Yardley, which opened at the Gaiety Theatre on 26 December 1885. Such works undoubtedly inspired Tenniel’s cartoon.