Signed ‘Spy’ at lower right Art Gallery collection pre-1974
Sir Leslie Matthew Ward, friend of the writer Charles Dickens, showed an interest in caricature from his schooldays at Eton College. Caricatures and cartoons of celebrity figures were a popular feature in society journals in the late nineteenth century and Ward, using the pseudonym ‘Spy,’ secured a regular position at Vanity Fair in the 1870s.
Ward drew 1,325 cartoons for Vanity Fair between 1873 and 1911, about half of its entire cartoon output in those years. His subjects were drawn from the royal family, the aristocracy and from the worlds of politics, the judiciary, sport and celebrity. His portraits were generally full length, and done from memory. Each caricature began as a watercolour drawing, turned into a chromolithograph for publication in the magazine and was then reproduced on better quality paper for sale as prints.
He was knighted in 1918 and died four years later.
Daniel O’Donoghue, also known as The O’Donoghue or O’Donoghue of the Glens was born between 1833 and 1837 and served as a Member of Parliament for Tipperary, (1857–65) and subsequently, as MP for Tralee (1865–85). He died in 1889 and may be the O’Donoghue of the Glens whose tomb is in Muckross House, Killarney. There is no record of his having contributed to public debate during his time in Parliament. It is not clear how many copies of this print were issued but a copy was purchased by the NGI in 1912. As in many of Ward’s cartoons the figure of The O’Donoghue is represented disproportionately, giving an air of self-importance and ponderousness to the politician, who is otherwise shown as a kindly, and generally harmless, fellow.