An original, signed pen and ink cartoon of Winston Churchill by Kem. "Kem" Kimon Evan Marengo.
An original, signed pen and ink cartoon of Winston Churchill by Kem

An original, signed pen and ink cartoon of Winston Churchill by Kem

London: Circa Second World War. Drawing. This original ink cartoon of Winston S. Churchill by cartoonist Kimon Evan Marengo, known as “Kem”, was likely composed during the Second World War. This drawing on a paper board support was sketched with graphite and executed in black ink with corrections and highlights added with white paint. The brittle, likely wartime, board measures 8.75 x 12 inches (22.23 x 30.48 cm) and bears evidence of its age, with some chipping to the extremities that breach the field of the drawing only at the upper corners. Intriguingly, the drawing’s lower portion was made on a second piece of board overlaid diagonally to the first. Below the lower corner of the second board the original surface of the first board is just visible. Ink on this surface indicates that Kem applied the second board to either make corrections to Churchill’s hands and the despatch box and speech notes, or to restructure the composition. The lower right of the drawing bears Kem’s distinctive signature. A description reading “The Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill” runs along the bottom edge. The verso bears Kem’s handwritten identifier reading, “No. LC. 4737. | Original by | Kem | 63 Hamilton Terrace | St. John’s Wood N W8”. Affixed to the verso are the remnants of a clipping with text reading “JOHN BULL” inked over. Factors including provenance, the cartoonist’s career arc, Churchill’s physical appearance, and his depiction addressing the House of Commons from a ministerial despatch box, lead us to date this original drawing to the Second World War. We further presume that this drawing once belonged to the archives of The Daily Telegraph as it was acquired as part of a collection of items with that provenance. Moreover, The Daily Telegraph regularly published Kem’s work. Born to Greek cotton farmers in Alexandria Egypt, Kimon Evan Marengo (1907-1988) began what would come to be a lifelong career in political satire when he began publishing his own small-scale satirical magazine in Egypt as a teen. In 1929 “Kem” left Egypt to study at the Ecoles des Sciences Politiques in Paris. Following graduation, Kem began drawing cartoons for French and British newspapers including The Daily Telegraph. WWII interrupted Kem’s studies at Oxford. He joined the war effort as a cartoonist for the Ministry of Information in London. Over the course of the war Kem produced more than 3,000 propaganda images distributed both on the home front and abroad. Kem became a critical figure in Britain’s propagandistic outreach to the Middle East, producing cartoons in Farsi and Arabic. In addition to his work for the Ministry of Information Kem worked in the French and North African section of the Political Warfare Executive (PWE), an organization within the Foreign Office started in September 1941, eventually becoming adviser to the Middle East Section and a member of the Arabic Committee of the PWE. In 1943 Kem attended the Tehran conference as an observer. In 1944 he took The Daily Sketch to court for “reasonable possibility of misrepresentation” when they began publishing cartoons by an artist who went by Kim. The ensuing case was not resolved until 1952 and made Kem unpopular with newspapers and magazines, effectively ending his career as a cartoonist. In addition to drawing political cartoons, Kem had scholarly interest in their history; following the war he returned to his studies and published his PhD thesis, “The Cartoon as a Political Weapon in England: 1783-1832” at Exeter College in 1946. Though this drawing is undated, we presume wartime provenance as Kem continued to be published in The Daily Telegraph during his war years as Ministry of Information propagandist. After Churchill left the cabinet in 1929, he would not hold a ministerial position and speak from a despatch box in the House of Commons until September 1939, when he returned to the government as First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill’s appearance in this cartoon further corroborates our supposition of a wartime composition. Item #005468

Price: $1,150.00

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