Display of historical artwork to shed light on works of Dickens illustrator John Leech

Posted by ap507 at Jun 08, 2017 02:40 PM |
Illustrations to be displayed at University of Leicester until 31 July

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 8 June 2017 

Images from the display are available here (credit: University of Leicester): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/if9i4geum553k2s/AAC5RNJCjHuWU45rvcJvSucRa?dl=0

A volume containing newly-discovered drawings by caricaturist and illustrator John Leech is on display at the University of Leicester until 31 July.

This volume sheds light on the early life and work of the artist, known for his contributions to Punch and classic Charles Dickens novels including A Christmas Carol.

Leech was born in 1817 in London, the son of the assistant proprietor of the London Coffee House. 

He was sent to Charterhouse School from the age of seven, initially as a day pupil and then as a boarder. After his father’s business collapsed he was compelled to turn to art, a hobby in which he had always shown outstanding talent, to make his living and to support his family.

The images in the exhibition provide examples of Leech’s earlier works, as well as images from his later career.

Among the works in the collections is a copy of the chief Latin and Greek textbook used at the school, which was written by the Charterhouse schoolmaster John Russell. 

The copy is inscribed with ‘Berney’ on the cover and likely belonged to George Berney, who was a fellow boarder in Churtons with Leech.  Its blank pages are filled with ‘doodles’, notable for their vitality and humour. 

Dr Simon Dixon from the University of Leicester Special Collections said: “The discovery of these previously unknown sketches by John Leech is down to some superb detective work by Margaret Maclean from the University Library’s Archives and Special Collections team. The drawings add to our knowledge of Leech’s early years and they are great fun to see.”

The display will be running until 31 July 2017 in the David Wilson Library.

Additional illustrations by John Leech are available here: http://leicester.omeka.net/exhibits/show/victorianschooldays/pupilsday/johnleech


Notes to editors:

For more information contact the University of Leicester Special Collections on email specialcollections@le.ac.uk


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