Sunday 31 July 2022

Herbert Beerbohm makes an adjustment

A double caricature of Herbert, looking large and heroic, and Max, looking small and dapper

This is Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the actor, and Max Beerbohm, the writer and caricaturist. They were half-brothers; Herbert the older by nineteen years. When Herbert became an actor in 1876, he added 'Tree' (translation of Bohm) to his name. According to Max, this was because he wanted a "shoutable monosyllable, for purposes of applause."

I really like Max's caricatures (this isn't one of his best, perhaps because he was fond of his brother.) He gave a very useful recipe for them, which also applies to a certain kind of comedy writing:

The most perfect caricature is that which, on a small surface, with the simplest means, most accurately exaggerates, to the highest point, the peculiarities of a human being, at his most characteristic moment, in the most beautiful manner.

A caricature of Aubrey Beardsley, which it seems to me does all the things the quote describes.
Aubrey Beardsley



v.edgy (the dot is silent) VEG said...

Yes, I like the sound of that. 🙄

Anyway, I really like Max's Aubrey, not least because from the neck down it reminds me a little of one of your doodles. And it reminded me, from childhood, of a caricature of a relative, which I then managed to find online, as well as various images of him also sporting a pretty magnificent centre parting... Probably a late nineteenth century thing.

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