This exhibition at the Cartoon Museum in Little Russell Street has already been running for about a month and will continue until 8 April. It celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by sharing with us a selection of Royalty-related cartoons from 1952 to the present. Early efforts in the 1950s tended to depict the Royal Family realistically rather than as caricatures, and made sure of being nothing less than deferential all the way. This attitude at least pretty much remained like that – more or less – until the 1980s onwards, despite the “satire boom” of the 60s. And even so, with a few notable exceptions such as Steve Bell and Martin Rowson, most cartoonists seem to remain fairly respectful. But none comes close to the high-water mark Georgian days of Gilray, Cruikshank, Rowlandson and their ilk. Brutal. Or certain contemporary stuff from the Continent today.
Still. This excellent exhibition has something for everyone: the social historian, the satire fan, both the republican and the monarchist, or the cartoon aficionado (me). Along with a good dose of nostalgia. Virtually all notable cartoonists of the era are represented. Back in the day, every Dad usually had the Giles annual at Christmas: there are many pieces here by Carl Giles. That gift to satirists, the Duke of Edinburgh, writes the script himself, so he is richly represented. My absolute favourite item, part of a larger piece, is a drawing by Steve Bell of the Princess of Wales as a coquettish, sulking teenager. It is perfect.
The selection below – at 500 pixels each – gives a flavour but doesn’t come close to doing the cartoonists’ justice like the real thing. So do try and make it to this excellent show if you can. The Cartoon Museum’s next show, starting 11 April, is mouthwatering: HM Bateman. Don’t be The Man Who Missed the Bateman Exhibition!