Monday, August 10, 2009

Frank Bellew (1828-1888)

TOP: “Raising the Wind; or, Both Sides of the Story,” Principal cartoon by Frank Bellew in The Lantern, 13 Mar 1852.

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 28 Dec 1861 >

We are glad to see that Frank Bellew, Esq., is about to make the public partake of his extensive knowledge of Comic Literature and Caricatures, by giving Lectures upon those subjects. The first is to be on Caricature, and will be illustrated by humorous diagrams made at the moment. The second will be on the London Punch which cannot fail to be of great interest, as he has been, and still is, one of its favored contributors and artists. When it is said that he is also the leading caricaturist of Frank Leslie’s Budget of Fun, we can add nothing more in his favor. His first Lecture will be given in New York.

The Late Frank Bellew.

Mr. Frank H. Temple Bellew, the veteran artist and caricaturist, died recently in Metuchen, N.J. Mr. Bellew’s father was Lord Temple Bellew of Wiltshire, England. The son, who was born sixty-five years ago, married against his father’s wish and was disinherited. He followed the calling of an artist and furnished sketches and articles for the London papers, achieving considerable success. In 1857 he came with his family to America and began to draw for Harper’s Weekly, furnishing sketches for the first number of the paper ever published. He also drew for Harper’s magazine.

He tried various ventures in the comic paper line, but without success. In 1860 he founded The Picayune, with Artemus Ward as editor. It was a bright paper but only lived six months. Later he tried another comic paper, Wild Oats, but it also soon disappeared. For some years his work has appeared in the principal New York pictorials and comic papers.

Mr. Bellew drew in black and white, and his signature surrounded by a long triangle has long been familiar to readers of comic papers. He also once wrote for the magazines over the signature of “Au D’Tramp” and “Triangle.” He was very original in comic work, and never found a time when his ideas failed.

Mr. Bellew was a widower. He left an unmarried daughter and a son, who draws over the signature of “Chip,” signifying “of the old block.”

-Atchison Daily Globe, July 11, 1888.

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 26 Jan 1861 >


JOHN BROUGHAM, the popular contributor to the BUDGET OF FUN is “expatiating on the Continent of Europe” When the pantomimes have had their run, he will complete his engagements in London. Mr. Brougham made a mistake in hankering after an England that rejected him, and abandoning an America that received and fostered his talents.

The Lantern’s Light

Luck of the Little Illustrated Paper of Thirty-Six Years Ago

I have not seen it stated in any of the sketches of his career that Lester Wallack* was at one time an editor. And although he was such in a comparative sense only, the fact, nevertheless, is worthy of record. In 1852 the late John Brougham** originated and published a little illustrated paper here, modeled after the London Punch, calling it The Lantern. Its flame was a brilliant one. Once a week all the leading contributors and artists connected with the paper used to meet at dinner, as do the artists and editors of Punch today, to make suggestions for and decide upon the principal cartoon to be printed in the next issue.

The meeting was held every Saturday night at Windust’s, a famous restaurant on Park-row, and after every one had dulled their faculties with well served viands and muddied their brains with innumerable draughts of sherry and ale, cigars would be lit, the brandy decanter passed around and John Brougham sitting at the head of the table, with Lester Wallack at the other end, would call the meeting to order and the business of the evening would begin. The assemblage generally broke up at about 3 in the morning; and when the subject for the cartoon had at length been decided upon, my old friend Frank Bellew would go home and make the design. In the editorial duties of the paper, Lester Wallack, so Mr. Brougham has told me, was his right hand man, while a Mr. Tinson, whom if I am not mistaken, was a carpet manufacturer, with no ability whatever in art or letters, was chief adviser. Just why these two gentlemen were chosen it is impossible to say, for their artistic and general ideas were far inferior to those of others in the party. Nevertheless the fact remains.

The contributors to The Lantern were all men of genius. They belonged to a certain set that marked a sort of Elizabethan era in the annals of New York journalism. There was Fitz James O’Brien,*** the author of many charming bits of verse, and an able literary and dramatic critic, who enlisted in the Union army at the breaking out of the war, and was killed while serving as aide-de-camp to General Lander. There was Thomas Dunn English, one of the few who survive today, notwithstanding the bitter attacks made upon his character by Edgar Allan Poe – attacks which were calculated to kill outright any ordinary man. Thomas Power, who was christened Micawber by the party, both for his traits in common with, as well as his resemblance to that gentleman, and William North, author of “The Slave of the Lamp,” and who afterward committed suicide, were also members of the Lantern club. Thomas Butler Gunn, who stammered so that no one could understand what he said, but who was, nevertheless, a very able writer and artist, was another of the Lantern’s leading contributors, and there are many more whose ghosts I might conjure up were it worthwhile doing so. – JOHN PRESTON BEECHER in New York News. Nov 7, 1888, Bismarck Daily Tribune

*American actor, playwright and theatre manager.

**British actor. John Brougham (1814-1880)moved to the United States in 1842 where he worked as an actor, author, editor, and contributor to comic papers.

***O’Brien was the author of the famous early science fiction story The Diamond Lens (1858).

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