The Rowers Of Vanity Fair

Some reflections by Tim Koch regarding a recent entry:

The charming Vanity Fair (‘Spy’) print of Henry Searle recently reproduced on HTBS (on 8 April, 2001) may have aroused interest in others in the series.

Vanity Fair magazine was published in Britain between 1868 and 1914 and so covered the ‘high water mark’ of the late Victorian/Edwardian age. It was a successful mixture of the serious and the trivial and covered political and economic news but also fashion and gossip plus literary and artistic comment. It is now remembered for the full page colour lithograph of a celebrity or dignity that appeared in each issue. Over two thousand different prints of sportsmen, politicians, actors, royalty, scientists, businessmen, academics, soldiers and clergymen appeared over 46 years. There is a full list of the caricatures here and a list of the various Vanity Fair artists here.

Incidentally, I think that the Searle picture, drawn in full profile, is uncharacteristic of ‘Spy’s’ style and reminds me of the ‘matchstick men’ of the Northern English artist, L. S. Lowry.

The rowing men who were featured in the magazine are brought together on the Wikibooks site, ‘The Rowers of Vanity Fair’.

The author, ‘Wat Bradford’ (Walter Bradford Woodgate), writes not only about the twenty five men who were featured because of their rowing achievements but also of thirty four others who appeared for other reasons but who had competed at Henley Regatta or in the University Boat Race. Bradford also includes an item of rowing history contemporary with each print featured. The pictures and their accompanying text are a delightful snapshot of an era that ended, like Vanity Fair itself, with the 1914–1918 War.

Tim is seen above at Auriol Kensington RC in London, where you can view him as a ‘caricature’, however, not by ‘Spy’.

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