Leech, John (1817-1864) by Scholes, Robert

John Leech (1817 – 1864) He was born in London and educated at Charterhouse. At the age of sixteen he went to St. Bartholomew’s to study medicine. Leech’s teachers soon became aware of Leech’s superb anatomical drawings and began commissioning him to paint portraits. Leech left medical school and tried to make a living from drawing and painting. His first known published work was a pamphlet called Etchings and Sketchings (1835) and included drawings of street characters such as cabmen, policemen, street musicians, etc. For the next few years he produced a series of humourous pamphlets including the Comic Latin Grammar, The Fiddle-Faddle Fashion Book and the Children of Mobility. Like in France, he was, as Baudelaire said, a painter of modern life. Constantin Guys In 1840 Leech was employed by the to supply illustrations. The following year he was recruited by a new journal, , founded by Mark Lemon and Henry Mayhew. Leech’s humourous drawings were extremely popular and was one of the main reasons the magazine became a great success. Over the next twenty-three years Punch published 3,000 of Leech’s drawings and 600 cartoons. He was a friend of Dickens and did the illustrations for A Christmas Carol. London Magazine Punch Magazine By calling one of his satirical drawings, Substance and Shadow, a “cartoon” (a word previously used for a sketch on which a tapestry might be based), Leech permanently gave that word a new meaning in the English language.

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