Caricatures by Barry Fantoni
by Barry Fantoni
Past display archive
23 June - 20 September 2007
Room 31 showcase
This group of caricatures, a recent acquisition, represents popular comedians and broadcasters of the 1960s and 70s, collectively known as the 'Media Mob'. It also includes politicians and businessmen who, like the entertainers, were becoming 'media personalities'. Made for publications including the Listener, Radio Times, Sunday Times and Cosmopolitan magazine, these caricatures provide a fascinating insight into the importance of illustration during this period in creating and popularising these media 'personalities'.
Fantoni's involvement in the media world of the 1960s gave him a unique perspective when creating these portraits. After studying Fine Art at Camberwell School of Art, Fantoni joined the staff of the magazine, Private Eye, as cartoonist and columnist. He also wrote scripts for the BBC's groundbreaking satirical show That Was the Week That Was. In 1966 he became a television star himself, hosting the fashion and music programme, A Whole Scene Going On, where Twiggy made her television debut, and for which he was voted Television Personality of the Year.
Fantoni produced caricatures for the listings magazine RadioTimes and its sister publication the Listener from the mid-1960s. Photographic stills from television programmes were beginning to replace illustration by this time, but caricatures were considered to be a potent alternative to the photographic portrait. His style eschews extreme distortion, but subtly exaggerates features while adhering closely to the sitter's literal appearance.
The caricatures in this display are working drawings. Using standard black and white publicity shots, Fantoni was required to produce finished artwork in a single day. He often knew very little about the shows or their stars, and in those days there were no preview tapes. Fortunately, the comedy programme The Two Ronnies had been running for four years when he created the double portrait of its stars for the Radio Times in 1976, and was able to provide a witty observation of their relationship. Colour printing, introduced to the Radio Times in 1960, was expensive and only used occasionally, and Fantoni's 'cut-out-doll' feature, illustrating the many guises of comedian Dick Emery, was part of an eight-page special promoting the BBC's new season. Producing a caricature of Sir Freddie Laker for Cosmopolitan magazine in the late 1970s also gave Fantoni the opportunity to experiment with colour
Watch our playlist exploring scientific techniques used by the Gallery to unlock the secrets behind our Tudor portraits.
Subjects and themes
Search the collection by themes - from pets to weddings!
Black History Month
Take a tour exploring our Collection created by Alayo Akinkugbe for Black History Month in 2020.
A Picture of Health
Learn about pioneers in medicine, health and social reform from 1840 to 1920.
- Richard Austen ('Rab') Butler, 1st Baron Butler of Saffron Walden (NPG 6776)
- Dick Emery (NPG 6778)
- Dick Emery (NPG 6779)
- Sir Bruce Forsyth (NPG 6780)
- Russell Harty (NPG 6781)
- Jimmy Savile (NPG 6786)
- Harold Wilson (NPG 6788)
- Sir Freddie Laker (NPG 6785)
- Arthur Askey (NPG 6773)
- Sir Edward Heath (NPG 6782)
- Tony Blackburn (NPG 6775)
- Alan Donald Whicker (NPG 6787)
- Ronnie Barker; Ronnie Corbett ('The Two Ronnies') (NPG 6774)
- Ken Dodd (NPG 6777)
- Ludovic Kennedy (NPG 6784)
- Frankie Howerd (NPG 6783)
- Dave Allen (NPG 6772)
- Dave Allen (David Tynan O'Mahoney)
- Arthur Askey
- Ronald William George ('Ronnie') Barker
- Antony Kenneth ('Tony') Blackburn
- Richard Austen ('Rab') Butler, 1st Baron Butler of Saffron Walden
- Ronald Balfour ('Ronnie') Corbett
- Sir Kenneth Arthur ('Ken') Dodd
- Richard Gilbert ('Dick') Emery
- Sir Bruce Forsyth (Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson)
- (Frederic) Russell Harty
- Sir Edward Heath
- Frankie Howerd (Francis Alex Howard)
- Sir Ludovic Henry Coverley Kennedy
- Sir Freddie Laker
- Sir James Wilson Vincent ('Jimmy') Savile
- Alan Donald Whicker
- (James) Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx