The Beginning of Churchillian Portraiture.
On 27 September 1900, the first and most famous caricature of young Winston Churchill (1874-1965) appeared in ‘Vanity Fair’ magazine, just after Churchill’s return to England following his headline-making escape from the Boers, and just before Churchill’s first General Election standing as the Conservative candidate for Oldham. He was duly elected 24 October.
It was drawn by the legendary caricaturist Sir Leslie Ward, for whom Churchill sat on 8 August 1900 (letter from Churchill to Ward). He was the most famous contributor to ‘Vanity Fair’ magazine. Churchill was preparing for his first General Election as a Conservative candidate in Parliament. Ward’s finished product presented the future Prime Minister in a pose similar to that of his father Randolph Churchill (1849-95), also a British politician. The stance would become iconic. The accompanying profile was written by Vanity Fair’s founder, Thomas Gibson Bowles, who signed himself ‘Jehu Junior.’ Of the 24-year old Churchill, Bowles wrote: ‘He can write and he can fight … He is something of a sportsman; he prides himself on being practical rather than a dandy; he is ambitious; he means to get on and he loves his country. But he can hardly be the slave of any party.’
Leslie Ward entered the Royal Academy schools right out of Eton in 1871. There, the painter Sir John Everett Millais brought him to the attention of Vanity Fair, which was looking for a new caricaturist. Under his ‘Spy’ nome de plume, Ward became a regular contributor from 1873. His caricatures of notables, from politicians, judges and generals to authors and musicians, were reproduced widely as lithographs. He was knighted in 1918. Matthews & Mellini p. 203 & 211 n. 13.