Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Ronald Searle has died at the great age of 91. By all accounts he felt oppressed by his enduring association with the Belles of St. Trinian’s, with Molesworth, and with all the other broadly revealing postwar English stereotypes which decades ago he skewered so exactly with his pen. His reportage and more serious later work he felt were consistently underappreciated at home; he settled in France. Yet those early, writhing symphonies of line were the works with which I grew up, and in early childhood obviously did my very best to imitate. This was my father’s taste, though interestingly in his own graphic work Dad leaned farther towards Daumier’s gens de justice. Anyway, a mere cartoonist or illustrator Searle was most definitely not, but rather, as his obituary in the Daily Telegraph rightly states, “one of the world’s greatest satirical artists.” Indeed, Ronald Searle belonged in the same category of genius as that of Saul Steinberg or Hilary Knight. His personal collection now goes to the Wilhelm Busch Museum (Deutsches Museum für Karikatur und Zeichenkunst) in Hanover.