Place Oceania: Australia, South Australia, Adelaide
Accession Number ART96322
Collection type Art
Measurement Sight: 15 x 10 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description watercolour, pen and ink on paper
Maker Chinner, John Henry
Place made Australia: South Australia, Adelaide
Date made 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Portrait of the British General Douglas Haig by South Australian caricaturist and cartoonist J.H Chinner. One of a commemorative set of seven handcoloured caricatures of First World War Military leaders created by Chinner in September 1918. The following appeared as an ‘Item of Interest’ in Adelaide’s 'the Advertiser' Wednesday 4 September 1918 :

‘Mr. J.H. Chinner, of Adelaide, has lately completed a number of capital pen and ink sketches, finished in colours of prominent leaders in the great war. There are two sets of seven pictures, intended to be shown in panel…The drawings are in Mr. Chinner’s characteristic style and are distinctly the best work of the kind he had done. One of the sets shows French, Kitchener, Pershing, Haig, Foch, Allenby, and Birdwood, and the other King George, Haig, Joffre, French, Jellicoe, Beatty, and Foch…Mr Chinner has hit off happily the expressions by which all these men are popularly known. The background for each portrait is typical of the subject. For example in the case of Birdwood there is a small sketch of the landing place at Gallipoli, for General Allenby the domes and minarets of Jerusalem and for Field Marshall Foch a distant view of Rhiems Cathedral….Mr Chinner is engaged on a third series which will include Byng, Plumer and other prominent fighting men.’

John Henry Chinner (1865-1933) began as a hobby artist who worked as a cartoonist part-time while also managing an Insurance company. He studied life drawing at the Adelaide School of Design under H.P Gill soon after leaving school but seem to have undertaken no further formal art education. By the 1880s Chinner had secured a paid cartoonist position with a satirical weekly The lantern and went on to become well known in Australia for his work with every major newspaper in Adelaide, the Sydney Bulletin and even had a cartoon published in London Punch [June 1902]. Too old to enlist, John Chinner was active on the home front supporting recruitment drives and even wrote a popular patriotic poem later published in Dorothy Langsfords 1922 novel 'Cooee of Glenowie'.

During the Victorian period the art of the caricaturist became extremely popular with the growing middle classes in Britain and throughout the Empire and Colonies. This popularity continued well into the middle of the twentieth century. The production of three sets of caricature portraits of Military leaders of the First World War by Chinner provides insights into the tastes and politics of middle class Australians towards the end of the First World War. There was certainly the demand for such material along with commemorative prints of military campaigns reproduced in their 1000s lithographically in the years immediately following the end of the war.