An exhibition of the illustrations and cartoons of John Leech
4th - 10th May 2019 At Sally Mitchell's Gallery, 1 Market Place, Tuxford, Notts, NG22 0LA
Opening Times: Monday - Friday; 8.30am - 5pm Saturdays 8.30am - 3pm.
Now largely forgotten, John Leech was in his time highly regarded by both the public and his contemporaries in art and literature. This will be the first major loan exhibition since 1967 (Leicester Museum) and will consist of over 100 drawings, watercolours, prints and books. At the centre of his success were the three thousand or so cartoons he contributed to Punch and the more than seventy books that he illustrated.
There were two main strands to John Leech's pencillings - the everyday life of Victorian Britain and sport. In the former his acute observations infused with humour, irony and understanding recreated the world of cheeky bare-foot, ragged orphans, pompous footmen, raucous street musicians, portly matrons and comely maidens in their absurd crinolines. In holiday mood he sketched the families enjoying the newly discovered pleasures of the seaside in their bathing machines, boating and dainty beach picnics; or in the countryside playing croquet, trying their hand at archery and looking for husbands!
In his illustrations for Punch we follow the adventures of Mr Briggs and Mr Noddy and their sporting disasters on the river and in the hunting field. In his engravings for Surtees's novels he brings to life the chicanery, snobbery and love of venery of Mr Jorrocks and his motley collection of companions.
Leech is never personal in his political sketches but obviously felt very strongly on the subject of exploitation and neglect of the London poor!
Charles Dickens wrote of John Leech; ?'His drawings seem to us charming and the expression, indicated by the simplest means, is exactly the natural expression, and is recognised as such at once. Some forms of our existing life will never have a better chronicler. His wit is always good natured and always the wit of a gentleman'
A fully illustriated catalogue of the loan exhibition (£15 + £2p&p) will be available in March 2019.
John Leech Study Day - Thursday 9th May 2019.
2pm John Leech and R.S. Surtees Hunting Novels Presented by Bob Williams, Chairman of the R.S. Surtees Society.
2.40pm John Leech and Victorian Middle Class Life Presented by Phillip Warren - Museums manager Leicestershire County Council.
3.20pm John Leech, Charles Dickens and William Powell Frith Presented by Mark Bills, Director of Gainsborouth House Museum & Art Gallery.