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Randolph Caldecott, Design for front cover of The Graphic,Christmas Number 1880

Design for front cover of The Graphic,Christmas Number 1880, 1880

Randolph Caldecott (1846 - 1886)

RA Collection: Art

This pen and ink drawing is a design for the cover of the 1880 Christmas edition of The Graphic. In the centre, Caldecott has depicted Millais's painting 'Cherry Ripe' (1879). The model for the painting was a niece of The Graphic's editor, William Luson Thomas. The reason for its inclusion here becomes clear from an account given by the art critic M. H. Spielmann: 'Miss Edie Ramage was the belle of the fancy dress ball given by The Graphic in the year the work was produced. She impersonated Sir Joshua Reynolds's 'Penelope Boothby' and she was thought to be so charming ....that it was agreed upon the spot that he (Millais) should paint a portrait of the child and that the price should be 1000 guineas...So popular was the picture...that of the coloured reproduction which appeared in The Graphic in 1880 600,000 copies were sold...'.

A female figure, her skirt labelled 'PEACE', examines the painting with a group of four men in various military uniforms - probably representing from the right Russia, Turkey, Germany or Austro-Hungary and Britain (?). The question of how to deal with Turkey's waning control over its empire was a great concern at the time as the piecemeal break-up of Ottoman territories was considered a great threat to the delicate balance of power in Europe. In 1877-78 Russia went to war with Turkey and won, gaining influence in the Balkans. In 1878 Britain, Austro-Hungary and other European powers sought to limit Russia's control over the region at the Congress of Berlin. Despite these measures, however, the threat of war continued for many years and was certainly still a concern in 1880. Caldecott plays on the image of Turkey as 'the sick man of Europe'. The figure of 'Peace' introduces the painting of 'Cherry Ripe' alluding - with a hint of irony - to the prevalent theory of art as a civilising or pacifying influence. In the background Caldecott shows The Graphic being read all over the world, with stereotyped depictions of 'exotic' countries and their inhabitants.

Object details

Title
Design for front cover of The Graphic,Christmas Number 1880
Artist/designer
Randolph Caldecott (1846 - 1886)
Date
1880
Object type
Drawing
Medium
Pen and brown ink on cream wove paper with highlights in white paint
Dimensions

363 mm x 256 mm

Collection
Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
02/227
Acquisition
Given by Mary, Lady Millais 1945

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