AN ITALIAN FEATHER IN HIS CAP. - an original printed appearance of this cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill from the 3 February 1926 edition of the magazine Punch, or The London Charivari
London: Punch, 1926. This original printed appearance of a Punch cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill comes from the personal collection of Gary L. Stiles, author of Churchill in Punch (Unicorn Publishing Group, 2022). His book is the first ever effort to definitively catalog, describe, and contextualize all of the many Punch cartoons featuring Churchill.
This cartoon titled "AN ITALIAN FEATHER IN HIS CAP." appeared thus on p.115 of the 3 February 1926 issue of Punch. The artist is Leonard Raven-Hill. The image is captioned "The Bird of France (seeing Mr. Churchill adorned with the plumes of the Bersaglieri). 'LET'S HOPE HE WON'T WANT ANY MORE COCK-FEATHERS FOR A BIT.'" On January 27, while uttering bouquets to Mussolini he would later regret, Churchill signed an agreement with the Italian Government to start replaying its war debt to Britain beginning in 1930. The deal was hailed as a success, and the French were worried that they would be required to sign a similar deal. The Bersaglieri was a specialty unit of the Italian fascist army, famed for the plumage on their hats.
Punch or The London Charivari began featuring Churchill cartoons in 1900, when his political career was just beginning. That political career would last two thirds of a century, see him occupy Cabinet office during each of the first six decades of the twentieth century, carry him twice to the premiership and, further still, into the annals of history as a preeminent statesman. And throughout that time, Punch satirized Churchill in cartoons – more than 600 of them, the work of more than 50 different artists.
It was a near-perfect relationship between satirists and subject. That Churchill was distinctive in both persona and physical appearance helped make him easy to caricature. To his persona and appearance he added myriad additional satirical temptations, not just props, like his cigars, siren suits, V-sign, and hats, but also a variety of ancillary avocations and vocations, like polo, painting, brick-laying, and writing. All these were skewered as well.
Some Punch cartoons were laudatory, some critical, and many humorous, like the man himself. Nearly always, Churchill was distinctly recognizable, a larger-than-life character whose presence caricature served only to magnify. Item #007142