Linley Sambourne and Punch

Linley Sambourne worked for the weekly satirical magazine ‘Punch’ from 1867 until his death in 1910. Punch had been founded in 1841 and soon became one of the most popular and prestigious periodicals of its time. Members of staff who wrote the articles and provided illustrations quickly became minor celebrities. John Leach, Charles Keene, George du Maurier, Phil May, John Tenniel and Sambourne himself were all household names during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Punch Party at BoxhillThe Punch staff met at their office every Wednesday evening to discuss what material should go into the next edition. The subject and captions for the various drawings would be settled over a convivial dinner – everybody made suggestions, helped by plenty of liquid refreshment – and by next morning the artists would have decided

how to best illustrate their chosen subject.

Mahogany Tree

The drawing, called a ‘cartoon’ or a ‘cut’ had to be finished by Friday evening when it went to the engravers. Up to 1898 Punch appeared on Saturdays (10 days after the subject had been decided) but from 1899 onwards the lead time was shortened to a week, the paper coming out on Wednesday. The subject was liable to be overtaken by event, as on the famous occasion in 1902 when Edward VII’s coronation was postponed due to him suddenly falling ill with acute appendicitis.


In his early work Sambourne drew in a style which was often fantastical or grotesque, but by the mid 80’s he had been converted to realism. For this photography was to be a wonderful aide. Using models (amateur and professional) he would create posed photographs which he would use to draw from; a single cartoon could potentially combine up to several poses.


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18 Stafford Terrace, W8 7BH