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Albert Rowan Fairfield

(1861-1887), Artist

Artist of 1 portrait

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(Henry) Austin Dobson, by Albert Rowan Fairfield - NPG 2208

(Henry) Austin Dobson

by Albert Rowan Fairfield
chalk, 1874
NPG 2208

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Levana Taylor

09 November 2019, 06:40

This artist is Arthur Rowan Fairfield (1839-1915). He was born near Boyle (Co. Roscommon, Ireland); he worked as a clerk for the British Board of Trade in London for 3 decades, while contributing occasional cartoons and illustrations to "Punch" and other magazines. Here's what M. H. Spielmann has to say about him in "The History of 'Punch'": "Mr. A. R. Fairfield may be known by his sign-manual like a Sign of the Zodiac run wild. It is, however, merely an inverted "A" on the Greek character Φ with its stem elongated. He sprang from an artistic family, and after three months' training at South Kensington in 1857, he began to draw on wood for "Fun" at about the same time as Mr. W. S. Gilbert—the autumn of 1861. His connection with Punch was fortuitous. Being sent by Dr. James Macaulay, the editor of the "Leisure Hour," to Mr. Swain for some blocks on which to make his drawings for that magazine, he was smartly captured by the vigilant engraver for the "London Charivari." The result was many initials and drawings made to his own jokes; but his first contributions appeared in the special "Shakespeare Jubilee Number." His work appears often enough after that-—four-and-twenty times in 1864 and 1865. They were at times amateurish in manner, but they had character and humour. It was Leech's death that practically put an end to Mr. Fairfield's connection with Punch, for Keene then came to reign supreme in the art department; but it did not matter much, as Mr. Fairfield, at that time a clerk at the Board of Trade ... was given to understand that his career would be interfered with if he prosecuted too far his outside work. In 1887 (p. 245, Vol. XC.) another sketch appears, comet-like, after an interval of more than twenty years."

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