Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/410

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

lines of printer's ink to remain on the canvas, he removed them—particularly as regards the outlines of the face and figure—by means of turpentine. These outlines he re-drew with his own hand in a fine and delicate manner, and added a daintiness of finish, particularly in flesh colour, which greatly enhanced the value and beauty of the work. He nevertheless experienced some difficulty in reproducing in these enlargements the delicacy of touch and exactness which characterized the original drawings, and would labour all day at a detail—such as a hand in a certain position—before attaining a result which entirely satisfied himself. The catalogue of this exhibition may be cited in evidence of Leech's characteristic modesty. "These sketches," it said, "have no claim to be regarded or tested as finished pictures. It is impossible for any one to know the fact better than I do. They have no pretensions to a higher name than that I have given them—'Sketches in Oil.'"

Popular and eminently successful as this exhibition proved to be, it was undeniably rendered more popular and successful by his staunch friend Thackeray's article in the Times of 21st June, 1862: "He is a natural truth-teller," said the humourist, "as Hogarth was before him, and indulges in as many flights of fancy. He speaks his mind out quite honestly, like a thorough Briton. … He holds Frenchmen in light esteem. A bloated 'Mossoo' walking in Leicester Square, with a huge cigar and a little hat, with 'billard' and 'estaminet' written on his flaccid face, is a favourite study with him; the unshaven jowl, the waist tied with a string, the boots which pad the Quadrant pavement, this dingy and disreputable being exercises a fascination over Mr. Punch's favourite artist. We trace, too, in his work a prejudice against the Hebrew nation, against the natives of an island much celebrated for its verdure and its wrongs; these are lamentable prejudices indeed, but what man is without his own?" Thackeray's kindly article delighted Leech; he said "it was like putting £1,000 in his pocket." The exhibition, indeed, was so splendid a success that it is said to have brought in nearly £5,000.