London: Punch, 1928. 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 "ST. WINSTON AND THE BRITISH LION." appeared thus on p.435 of the 18 April 1928 issue of Punch. The artist is Bernard Partridge. The cartoon is captioned "MR. PUNCH PRESENTS THE ABOVE CARTOON IN CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH CENTENARY OF THE DEATH OF ALBRECHT DURER." In the cartoon, as the British Lion rests watchfully at Churchill's feet, Churchill - then Chancellor of the Exchequer - works diligently on the budget. Of note are the knives and scissors and the hour glass showing time running out. Albrecht Durer (1471-1548), like Churchill a Renaissance man, was a German printer and printmaker, known to da Vinci and Raphael.
When this cartoon was published, Churchill was a dozen years and an unrecognizable world away from his wartime premiership - a premiership that saw him become indelibly associated with the British Lion, ubiquitous in British heraldry for the better part of a thousand years. The association with Churchill’s rumbling oratory and implacably steadfast wartime leadership was perhaps inevitable. The iconic photographic portrait of Churchill taken on 30 December 1941 by Yousef Karsh – among the most famous photographic images of the twentieth century - came to be known as “The Roaring Lion”. Years later, in remarks on his 80th birthday in 1954, Churchill would remark on his legacy: “It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”
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 #007150