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King Edward the Seventh

Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)


Signed and inscribed with title

Pen ink and watercolour

8 ½ x 7 ¾ inches

'The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1894-2020', Chris Beetles Gallery, November 2020-January 2021, No 22

King Edward the Seventh

‘Both as Prince of Wales and as King, Edward VII (1841-1910) was Max’s favourite subject. The Hart-Davis Catalogue lists 72 caricatures of him (a number only surpassed by self-caricatures …). The Prince and later King was vulgar: he had next to no book learning; he cared little for the arts beyond theatre-going; his delights were the race course, the gambling table, food and drink, and, notoriously, philandering …

Max, while still a schoolboy, began caricaturing the Prince of Wales, and never left off. There are those who feel Max despised Edward, but their view fails to take into account Max’s sense of fun, his love of irony, his genuine delight in anything touching the ridiculous, his broad sympathy for simple souls, whatever their position in life …

As King, Edward fascinated Max more than ever. He drew him constantly and unsparingly. One of Edward’s “salient” features was his large, pointed nose. Max said, à propos of the King, “The noses of fat men do not follow suit with the rest of them as they age. The noses become, if anything, sharper, thinner”’.

(N John Hall,
Max Beerbohm. Caricatures, New Haven: Yale University Press,1997, pages 171-173)

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