Item Details

Pickering & Chatto

Literature, Social Science, Women's Studies, Economics, Philosophy.

“MISTRESS & MAID, IF SHE THOUGHT HER LIFE WAS IN DANGER”. Original ink and crayon cartoon, signed ‘H. Cowham’.


Indian ink over pencil and blue crayon on art card (approx. 150 x 235mm), signed at lower right “H. Cowham”, with a pencil note at the foot, and printers pencilling in blue at head; small surface tear to upper left corner, though overall in good order; taped on reverse into a brown card mount (210 x 300mm overall), and with evidence of being removed from an album or scrapbook. Desirable original cartoon by Hilda Cowham, with an amusing social take on smallpox, depicting a mistress behind a curtain with “Smallpox” written at top, whilst the maid moves away smelling a disinfectant bottle. An additional pencil note at foot, perhaps even the intended title of the work, best describes the scene: “Mistress & Maid. If she thought her life was in danger”. Although undated, the style of clothing would seem to suggest a time frame of the latter years of the Victorian period, in to the early years of the twentieth century, which would also fit in with Cowham’s magazine illustration work period. Hilda Gertrude Cowham (1873-1964), was a student at Wimbledon School of Art, Lambeth School of Art, and the Royal College of Art. She was one of the first women illustrators to publish in Punch, and her work was also to be seen in The Sketch and The Graphic magazines. She went on to illustrate children’s books, such as Fiddlesticks (1900), Peter Pickle and his dog Fido (1906), Curly Heads and Long Legs (1914), and Blacklegs and Other (1911), soon being considered among the best of the female comic artists, scoring a particular success with her creation, the ‘Cowham Kid’. In the period 1924 to 1935, she and her friend Mabel Lucie Attwell were employed by Shelley Potteries Ltd to provide illustrations for baby plates and nursery ware, and she also found time to design a number of posters for the London Underground.