Lewis Carroll; Harry Furniss

Lewis Carroll; Harry Furniss, by Harry Furniss, before 1901 -NPG 3567 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lewis Carroll; Harry Furniss

by Harry Furniss
Pen and ink on paper laid down on larger sheet, before 1901
10 5/8 in. x 7 1/4 in. (271 mm x 185 mm) (irregular)
NPG 3567

Inscriptionback to top

Signed in ink lower right: ‘Hy.F.’

This portraitback to top

In this caricature Furniss shows himself barring the studio door to Lewis Carroll Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (see NPG P38 and NPG P237 among others). In 1885 the author of the renowned Alice in Wonderland (1865) asked Furniss to illustrate his latest children’s story, Sylvie and Bruno (1889). The whole project took many months. ‘Carroll was a wit, a gentleman, a bore and an egoist – and, like Hans Andersen, a spoilt child,’ wrote Furniss.[1] As detailed in Furniss’s memoirs, the author’s demands presented difficulties to the illustrator, who postponed drawing until the full text was available. This sketch illustrates a possibly exaggerated anecdote of one evening ‘early in the history of the work’ when Carroll came to see the illustrations:

He ate little, drank little, but enjoyed a few glasses of sherry, his favourite wine. ‘Now’, he said, ‘for the studio’. I rose and led the way. My wife sat in astonishment. She knew I had nothing to show. Through the drawing room, down the steps of the conservatory to the door of my studio. My hand is on the handle. Through excitement Lewis Carroll stammers worse than usual. Now to see the work for his great book! I pause, turn my back to the closed door, and thus address the astonished don: ‘Mr Dodgson, I am very eccentric – I cannot help it! … if I, in showing you my work, discover in your face the slightest sign that you are not absolutely satisfied with any particle of this work in progress, the whole of it goes in the fire! It is a risk … will you wait till I have the drawings quite finished and send them to Oxford?’[2]

The drawing was probably made in order to illustrate this anecdote in Furniss’ memoirs, published in 1901, after Carroll’s death.

See NPG 2609 and NPG 3629 for two other sketches of Carroll by Furniss, and NPG collection 3337–3535, 3554–3620.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Furniss 1901, vol.1, p.104.
2) Furniss 1901, vol.1, pp.111–12.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length, looking left, against door, barring entrance to his companion, wearing formal dress.

Conservationback to top

Conserved, 1980.

Provenanceback to top

The artist; his sons, from whom purchased (through Theodore Cluse), April 1947

Exhibitionsback to top

Harry Furniss: Confessions of a Caricaturist, NPG, London, 1983 (49).

Reproductionsback to top

Furniss 1901, vol.1, p.111, titled ‘I Go Mad!’

View all known portraits for Harry Furniss