Spy cartoon | Vanity Fair | Vanity fair lithograph | Vanity Fair cartoon | Leslie Ward | Carlo Pellegrini | Thomas Gibson Bowles
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About Vanity Fair Lithographs

Also known as 'Spy' Cartoons

View our extensive selection of Spy Cartoons


Vanity Fair was a weekly magazine published in London which was founded & edited by Thomas Gibson Bowles. His aim was to expose to contemporary vanities of Victorian society.  
From 1868 to 1914, full page colour lithographs appeared in most issues, both lampooning and lauding their subjects which included artists, athletes, royalty, politicians, scientists, authors, actors, sportsmen, lawyers, diplomats, soldiers, clergy, scholars & other celebrities of the day. More than two thousand of these images appeared, and they are considered the chief cultural legacy of the magazine, forming a pictorial record of the period.

Leslie WARD
'SPY'

Carlo PELLEGRINI
'APE'

They are renowned throughout the world and highly collectible. They range in price from around $20 up to several hundred for the scarcer & more sought after subjects. Best known and most remembered for its colour caricatures, over 2300 were published in Vanity Fair during its nearly half century in print, from 1868 until 1914. Famous artists contributed to Vanity Fair, typically under pen names.

The best remembered today is Leslie WARD (1851-1922), who signed his works as Spy, and whose caricatures account for well over half of those featured in Vanity Fair. So famous have these fabulous prints become, Vanity Fair caricatures today often are referred to and recognised immediately simply as Spy Cartoons. 'Spy', his nom de crayon, referred to his frequently used method of observing his victims secretly or from a distance for example at the racecourse, in the law courts, in church, in the university lecture theatre, or in the lobby of the Houses of Parliament.

Whether drawn by Ward himself or another of the Vanity Fair artists, such as Carlo PELLEGRINI, aka 'Singe' and 'Ape' (whose work is regarded by many as technically and artisitically superior), all caricatures from this exceptional and unique publication have become prized collectibles. They are embodiments epitomising British society during the Empire's most glorious years.