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Tenniel, Sir John (1820 - 1914)

Sir John Tenniel original cartoon artwork.

Initially Sir John Tenniel had hoped to be a history painter but, after the losing the sight in one eye after a joust with his father, a fencing and dancing master, he turned to black and white art and illustrated several books in the 1840s. One of these books, ‘Aesop’s Fables’, attracted the attention of Douglas Jerrold of Punch and Tenniel began to work for the magazine in 1850. By 1864 he had succeeded LEECH as Chief Cartoonist, a post he held until his retirement in 1900. Tenniel’s Punch cartoons were elegant and stately, drawn on wood blocks. They were often strongly metaphorical, incorporating symbolic figures like Britannia, John Bull and the Russian Bear, and gave the impression of passing judgement from the commanding heights. Tenniel also illustrated Lewis Carrroll’s ‘Alice’ books and he was knighted in 1893.