Pictures of Life & Character, c. 1860

Today we’re highlighting Pictures of Life & Character (volume one of five), by John Leech (1817-1864). Leech was a prominent caricaturist and illustrator in 19th Century Britain, and was widely regarded for his humorous and political cartoons in the comic magazine Punch.

Rather Severe. "Shall I 'old your 'orse, sir?"
Rather Severe.
“Shall I ‘old your ‘orse, sir?”

Pictures of Life & Character is an undated collection of Leech’s cartoons from Punch. Most of them are satirical commentary on social or political events, and quite a few are simply jocular. We’ve focused today on the sporting cartoons in the first volume.

Tableau -- Representing Mr. Briggs out for a day's rabbit-shooting.
Tableau — Representing Mr. Briggs out for a day’s rabbit-shooting.

Leech’s subjects often dealt with the sporting culture of his time, and he also illustrated many of the humorous sporting novels of his contemporary, R. S. Surtees (1805-1864). Many of the sporting cartoons in Pictures of Life & Character focus on the misadventures of Mr. Briggs, an enthusiastic (but ultimately incompetent) sportsman.

Pleasures of Horsekeeping. The frost goes, and Mr. Briggs's horse is disagreeably fresh after his long rest. He sets up his back and squeaks and plunges at everything he meets.
Pleasures of Horsekeeping.
The frost goes, and Mr. Briggs’s horse is disagreeably fresh after his long rest. He sets up his back and squeaks and plunges at everything he meets.
Our friend Briggs contemplates a day's fishing.
Our friend Briggs contemplates a day’s fishing.
Mr. Briggs, on his way to the "Metropolitan Steeple chase," tries whether his horse is a good one across country. He is represented riding at a brook (!).
Mr. Briggs, on his way to the “Metropolitan Steeple chase,” tries whether his horse is a good one across country. He is represented riding at a brook (!).
Mr. Briggs, not being good at his "fences," goes through the performance of opening a gate.
Mr. Briggs, not being good at his “fences,” goes through the performance of opening a gate.
Mr. Briggs Grouse Shooting. 9 a.m., his arrival on the moor. Mr. Briggs says that the fine bracing air makes him so vigorous that he shall never be beat. He also facetiously remarks that he is on "his native health," and that his "name is MacGregor!" The result of the Day's Sport will be communicated by Electric Telegraph.
Mr. Briggs Grouse Shooting.
9 a.m., his arrival on the moor. Mr. Briggs says that the fine bracing air makes him so vigorous that he shall never be beat. He also facetiously remarks that he is on “his native health,” and that his “name is MacGregor!”
The result of the Day’s Sport will be communicated by Electric Telegraph.

12 a.m. [noon], total prostration of Mr. Briggs.
12 a.m. [noon], total prostration of Mr. Briggs.
Thank you for reading along with us this year! Drawing Covert has been a huge success; we’ve received over 11,000 visits since we launched the blog one year ago. We wish all our readers a happy and peaceful holiday season and we’ll be back to look at more books next week.

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