The Adventures of René Cutforth, c. 1956
Passe-partout (ref: 4461)
Pencil and gouache on card, 10 x 10 in. (25.5 x 25.5 cm.)
Literature: Raymond Sheppard, Master Illustrator, Liss Fine Art, November 2010, Cat.88
This original drawing appeared, with text added, in the January 1956
issue of Lilliput. Lilliput was founded in 1937 by Stefan Lorant ,
(the photo journalist who later created Picture Post), with a subtitle
of “The Pocket Magazine for Everyone.” Its original size was allegedly
such that it could be slipped into a soldier’s trenchcoat and was no
doubt read in many an air-raid shelter in that handy size. During its 23
year run the magazine contained the illustrations of Mervyn Peake, Eric
Fraser, Frank Bellamy (of Dan Dare fame) and, perhaps most famously,
Ronald Searle’s cartoon series St. Trinians. The magazine became known
for its photographs too, with work by Brassai, Zoltan Glass and also
Bill Brandt. The magazine subtitle was changed in September 1954 to
“Lilliput is a Man’s Magazine” .
From a starting position of 216,562 in 1938 - double that of Punch at the time - by May 1959 Lilliput was only selling circa102,000 copies - number 277, July 1960, was the last issue at which point it was merged with Men Only. Sheppard was one of the most prominent illustrators of his generation working for comics such as Eagle, Girl, and Swift, and magazines such as Boy’s Own Paper, Lilliput, Everbody’s, Picture Post, and Reynolds News.
Between 1934 and 1958 Sheppard illustrated well over 100 books. The majority of these date from the 1950’s when Sheppard was often illustrating as many as ten a year – a prodigious rate tragically cut short by his death at the age of 45. Commissions from over fifteen publishing houses (Hutchinson, Blackie and Son, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Faber and Faber) included illustrations for leading authors of the day such as Enid Blyton, (two books in 1948 as well contributing to a regular annual she wrote all the stories for), Jim Corbett (six titles between 1947 and 1955) and, perhaps most notable of all, a commission in 1952 (shared with Tunnicliffe) to illustrate Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.