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Sir William George Granville Venables Vernon Harcourt, PC, MP, QC 'A Retired Leader'

Cloister (Sir Charles Garden Duff) (1852-1914)


Signed, inscribed 'You may think this sketch is rather silly It's really meant for "Uncle Willie" Around his waist he wears a robe and swears his Leader is the "Pope"', and dated 1899

Watercolour with pencil on board

13 ½ x 9 inches

Vanity Fair, 11 May 1899, Statesman no 707, 'A Retired Leader'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 135

'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 65

Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904) was a Liberal politician who served as Home Secretary (1880 to 1885) and twice as Chancellor of the Exchequer, briefly in 1886 and from 1892 to 1895, under Prime Minister William Gladstone. Harcourt led the Liberal party as Leader of the Opposition from 1896 to 1898, before retiring from the party. At the time of his caricature by Cloister, he was a private member of parliament, though he continued to involve himself in government policy. Sir William Harcourt first appeared in Vanity Fair in 1870, drawn by Alfred Thompson.

“He is now a Politician of seventy-two; but there is as great difference between the old ‘Historicus’ and the new Ecclesiastic as there might be between the Squire of Malwood and the Bishop thereof. He is also the retired Leader of a (once) great Party: who in his retirement takes much interest in the position of the Church; and so may be imagined by the vain fancier as the denizen of some Cloister. But, though he is now retired, he is still the gentle Radical that he was. He knows all about everything better than any other; and he is still a reverent follower of the Shade of that Grand Old Man who once proved himself his better.

He is a merry fellow in his newest guise.”

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