This page from the Daily Mail is preserved in the archive at Linley Sambourne House, RBKC, and was kindly supplied by Shirley Nicholson. It has been transcribed and formatted for the Victorian Web by Jacqueline Banerjee. Since it was in several columns, the illustrations are in different places, but all do come from the original, and have the original captions. The initial letter is also captioned in the article, and identified as "Mr Sambourne's first contribution to "'Punch.'" [Click on the other images to enlarge them.]

Decorated initial t

he eminent draughtsman who succeeds Sir John Tenniel as cartoonist-in-chief — to "Punch” is as unlike an artist in appearance as a cheery, breezy, vivacious sport-loving gentleman well can be. Mr. Linley Sambourne does not affect the abundant tresses, the disappearing collar and "butterfly" bow associated in the popular mind with those who handle palette and pencil. He prefers a Norfolk jacket to a velvet coat; he delights to talk of hunters, guns, and dogs, rather than of art and artists, and the covers he likes most to “draw" are those which conceal game.

Not that Mr. Sambourne takes no interest in the art wherein he has achieved such distinction; quite the contrary; but he is too old at the game — if his fellow-artists will permit the expression — to talk unnecessary “shop.” But it was "shop” the “Daily Mail” representative was in search of when he called at 18, Stafford-terrace, Kensington, the other snowy aftermoon. “Instead of which,” as the ancients have it, Mr. Sambourne greeted his visitor with the news that he was going away for three days’ shooting, that the weather was hardly conducive to the proper enjoyment of the sport, that the barometer held out no promise of an immediate improvement, and so on, until a great deal of the Badminton Library had been discussed.

It was in the luncheon interval of an exciting “meet” that at last Mr. Sambourne was inveigled to speak of himself; it was while the beaters were making a preliminary survey of the woods on that eventful day when “I made my record bag,” that the sporting artist was switched on to an explanation of the way cartoons are drawn.

Mr. Punch's chief cartoonist, drawn by himself. [Cf. his portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, shown in his biography]

To begin at the beginning. This was the manner of Mr. Sambourne’s introduction to Mr “Punch.” In 1867 he was in an engineer's office drawing plans and a limited salary. For pastime he drew more picturesque things, and one of them got into the hands of German Reed, the famous entertainer, who knew Mark Lemon, then editor of “Punch.” Mr. Reed showed Lemon the drawing, and to his surprise and pleasure the young draughtsman received a letter from the editor asking him if he could draw on wood, and enclosing half a dozen strips of the material for him to experiment with.

Young Sambourne promptly sent back a picture drawn according to requirements, and no one was more surprised than he when he saw it duly appear in “Punch’s” famous pages. For five years afterwards he contributed regularly to the paper; then in 1871 he joined “the Table” — that historic weekly gathering at which the destinies of "Punch” are decided. He was then but twenty-five, and the youngest of that happy and distinguished family that assembled round tho board. Now that Sir John Tenniel has retired, he has served Mr. “Punch” for a longer period than any other member of the staff, excepting the editor, Mr. Burnand.

Mr. Sambourne began his career on “Punch” by drawing ornamental initial letters, one of which is reproduced here by, permission of the proprietors. But in those days a “Punch” initial frequently ran to nearly a page in size, the accompanying type, being inserted usually at the righthand bottom corner. This latitude in the matter of space soon gave young Sambourne plenty of scope for the exercise of his imagination, and his “initial” often became a cartoon in itself. Recognising the bent of the young recruit’s talent, his editor encouraged him to draw these political first letters, and the natural development was that Sambourne became "Punch's" second cartoonist. It was equally inevitable that on the retirement of his senior Mr Sambourne should be appointed his successor.

With the withdrawal of "Sir Jackides" the last woodcut disappears from "Punch." It is not generally known that Sir John clung to the old-fashioned style of production up to the end; but Mr Sambourne favours the "zinco" process. This, at any rate, is advantageous to the artist, for he can afterwards dispose of the drawing to private individuals. Mr. Sambourne receives many remunerative offers for the originals of his work that appears in "Punch." Many of these find their way into the drawing-rooms of the wealthy, and from this source alone Mr. Sambourne derives an income that would gladden the hearts of the majority of black-and-white men.

The corner in Mr Sambourne's studio where the "Punch" cartoons are drawn.

As to his methods of work, Mr, Sambourne aims mainly at accuracy of detail, and takes elaborate pains to secure it. Some years ago he drew a cartoon representing Mr. Gladstone as the Duke of Wellington. The coat which the statesman was shown as wearing was one which had actually adorned the person of the Iron Duke, and was borrowed by Mr. Sambourne for the purposes of his cartoon. On a similar occasion he went to the trouble of obtaining an old hat that had belonged to Napoleon, while once he enlisted the services of a whole band of musicians so that the musical instruments he wished to introduce into a cartoon should be accurate in every particular. Then, in his “workshop,” a snug little room at the top of the house, he has a cabinet containing some 10,000 photographs, all carefully indexed, so that he can immediately place his hand on any one he wants. This wonderful collection of pictures comprises the uniforms of English and foreign regiments; the uniforms of policemen, home and Continental; photographs of hundreds of politicians and other famous men, some of them taken in many different positions, as, for instance, Sir Wiliam Harcourt, of whom there are no fewer than thirteen pictures; a whole “Zoo” of photographed animals, and a dozen National Galleries of classical studies. Hundreds of these photographs were taken by Mr. Sambourne himself, and the whole idea of the collection is to ensure absolute accuracy of detail in any picture he may be engaged upon.

"Working the Points." (Since Mr. Sambourne evolved this clever idea, it has often been copied by Continental cartoonists. It conveys an accurat idea of Bismarck's favourite method in diplomacy, which was to play off Russia against England, so that Germany might profit.)

It is in this room that Mr. Sambourne will draw his “Punch” cartoons. Necessarily much of his work will have to be done by artificial light, and to obtain an illuminant approximating daylight be has hit upon a happy device. Near his easel stand two engravers' globes, behind which are fixed two electric glow lamps each of fifty candle-power. The resulting light is of surpassing purity, and is thrown full on the easel. Here Mr Sambourne picks up from his desk five guineas, and explains that he has just received it from a fond parent who enclosed some specimens of drawing by a son, aged thirteen, upon whose prospects of developing into a skilful artist the father wished Mr Sambourne to express an opinion. The required information will be given, but some charity will benefit to the amount of the five guineas. Mr Sambourne’s “workshop,” it is interesting to learn, was his daughter's studio before her marriage. This lady is now Mrs Messel. As Miss Maud Sambourne she had a couple of excellent drawings in "Punch" when only a girl of sixteen. She inherited her father’s artistic gifts to a remarkable degree.

Before bidding Mr. Sambourne good-bye the inquisitive visitor is permitted to see one or two of the other rooms in the artist's charming home. The drawing-rooom is a dream of luxury and refinement in furnishing and decoration. Such a room is only possible in the home of one endowed with artistic taste. Some very fine specimens of bronze statuary are noticed, including John Bell’s “Eagle Slayer,” the original of which shares with Thornycroft’s "Gordon" the distinction of being the most perfect specimens of sculpture in London. A large stained window of curious design attracts attention, and Mr. Sambourne explains that he himself prepared drawings for it. Even here Mr. “Punch” occupies a place of honour, for a complete set of him, handsomely bound, stands near the great open fireplace.

Over tea and one of Mr. Sambourne's special Havanas art and artists are once more forgotten. He is back in the hunting field or among the stubble.

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Created 25 July 2022