Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Searle’

15 MAY, 2014

The Original Cartoon Canon of Lolcats: Legendary British Artist Ronald Searle’s 1960s Cat Drawings

By:

Caricaturing our human struggles, insecurities, and social anxieties through facetious felines.

Ronald Searle was not only one of the greatest satirical cartoonists of the 20th century, but also a man of extraordinary sensitivity who, when his wife was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, made for her the most moving love letter imaginable, which helped her persevere. But Searle’s sensitivity extended beyond his closest human, beyond humans in general, and into the animal world — he was an extraordinary cat aficionado, as evidenced by his contributions to the terrific Big New Yorker Book of Cats, and created the feline counterpart to Ralph Steadman’s delightful dog drawings. Nearly half a century before the Lolcats meme, Searle began drawing quirky, impossibly charming, exuberantly expressive cartoons and caricatures of cats, collected in Searle’s Cats (public library) — the original cartoon canon of cats, published in 1967 and reprinted in 2005. His unmistakable ink drawings of cats are coupled with wryly witty, brandishingly British captions that wink at our everyday human struggles, insecurities, and social anxieties, inviting us to laugh at those felines follies as we laugh at ourselves.

Vegetarian cat regarding a plate of fried eggs

A rather timid wolf in cat's clothing

Two cats discover that love is a many-splendoured thing

Remarkably hairy cat faced with the problem of dandruff

Happy cat in bath unaware that the house is on fire

Young cat already regretting puberty

Exhausted Persian cat contemplating the advantages of monogamy

Balding cat walking out in an unsuitable wig

Cretinous laboratory cat under the impression that animals are exploring space

Cat of a thousand disguises concealing itself as a rug

Two cats quite calmly making beasts of themselves

Searle’s Cats was followed by More Cats in 1975 and Ronald Searle’s Big Fat Cat Book in 1982. Complement his facetious felines with the immeasurably wonderful Lost Cat, then counter with the irreverent Cat-Hater’s Handbook.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount.





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

10 JANUARY, 2012

Les Très Riches Heures de Mrs Mole: A Real-Life Ronald Searle Love Story

By:

What a tender true love story has to do with medieval illuminated manuscripts and experimental medicine.

On New Year’s Eve 1969, Monica Searle was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Experimental at the time, chemotherapy — the course of action Monica’s doctor recommended — was a leap of faith. After each treatment, her husband, beloved British cartoonist Ronald Searle, made Monica a Mrs. Mole drawing “to cheer every dreaded chemotherapy session and evoke the blissful future ahead.” The Mole idea came after the couple discovered a large cellar in the decrepit house they had just bought in the south of France.

Les Très Riches Heures de Mrs Mole (public library) gathers 47 of these jewel-like drawings, full of love and light and glowing colors. The title of the book plays off the 15th-century illuminated manuscript Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Never intended for publication, these intimate visual vignettes exude contagious optimism and hope, a kind of earnestness completely and exuberantly devoid of Searle’s signature sardonic style.

Everything about them had to be romantic and perfect. I drew them originally for no one’s eyes except Mo’s, so she would look at them propped up against her bedside lamp and think: “When I’m better, everything will be beautiful.” ~ Ronald Searle

This is love.

Monica died in 2011, some forty years after her cancer diagnosis, and Ronald joined his beloved a few months later, at the age of 91.

via Austin Kleon HT @kirstinbutler

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.