Ars Britannica MDCCCLXVIII

Ars Britannica MDCCCLXVIII

Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910)

Wood engraving

Punch (1 June 1878): 231

Sambourne portrays a sad, discouraged Mr. Punch sitting at the foot of a statue of Britannia as the handsome Frederick Leighton, expected to succeed the ailing Sir Francis Grant as President of the Royal Academy, places a small nude statue of Venus with the label “best wax” on top of Britannia’s head. At the left we have John Everett Millais drawing Lily Langtry, the famous actress. On the right is Laurence Alma-Tadema (both Millais and Alma-Tadema were also close contenders for the presidency). In the middle of the cartoon William Hogarth, whom many took to be the founder of British painting, stands above (and possibly holds) a scroll bearing the words “Rich and Rare were the gems she [Britannia] wore.” Below that scroll we see paintings by Solomon Hart, Henry O’Neill, and another artist.