Richard "Dickie" Doyle

(18 September 1824 - 11 December 1883)

A notable illustrator of the Victorian era. His work frequently appeared, amongst other places, in Punch magazine; he drew the cover of the first issue, and designed the magazine's masthead, a design that was used for over a century.

Born at 17 Cambridge Terrace, London, one of seven children of Irish cartoonist John Doyle (known as 'H.B'), a noted political caricaturist, two of his brothers, James and Charles, were also artists. The young Doyle had no formal art training other than his father's studio, but from an early age displayed a gifted ability to depict scenes of the fantastic and grotesque. Throughout his life he was fascinated by fairy tales. He produced his first complete illustrated book, Home for the Holidays, when he was 12; it was published posthumously in 1887. He joined the staff of Punch in 1843 aged 19, remaining there for seven years.

He was the uncle of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Doyle's first published illustrations appeared in The Eglinton Tournament (1840), a humour book set in the Middle Ages, which met with commercial success.

Doyle collaborated with John Leech, W.C. Stanfield and other artists to co-illustrate three Charles Dickens Christmas books, The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845) and The Battle of Life (1846).

In 1846 Doyle's illustrations for The Fairy Ring (a new translation of Grimm's tales), first made his name as a fairytale illustrator. Following this in 1849, he produced Fairy Tales from All Nations (compiled by 'Anthony R. Montalba', which proved a tremendous success. Doyle was able to fully explore his love of fairy mythology with his many illustrations and borders filled with elves, pixies and other mythical creatures.

Following this success Doyle illustrated a string of fantasy titles: The Enchanted Doll by Mark Lemon (1849), The Story of Jack and the Giants (1850), and John Ruskin's The King of the Golden River (1850), which went through three editions in its first year of publication.

He also wrote for Punch a series of articles entitled "Manners and Customes of ye Englyshe". A very devout Roman Catholic, he resigned his position on the staff of Punch in 1850, in response to its hostility to what was termed "papal aggression", and spent the remainder of his career in preparing drawings for book illustration and to painting in watercolour. Doyle published works of his own, which helped establish his reputation with a large readership: Manners and Customs of Ye Englishe (1849), and Bird's Eye View of Society (1864).

His chief series of illustrations were those for'The Newcomes, The King of the Golden River, and The Foreign Tour of Brown, Jones and Robinson. In 1844, Doyle designed the cover of Punch's sixth issue. It became the basis of the magazine's masthead until 1954, and was based on Titian's "Bacchus and Ariadne".

His masterpiece is indubitably 'In Fairyland', a series of Pictures from the Elf World, with a poem by William Allingham, printed by Edmund Evans and published by Longman in time for Christmas 1869 (dated 1870). In the 16 colour plates and 36 line illustrations plus title page, Doyle was given a completely free hand. The folio was richly bound in green cloth, and has been described as one of the finest examples of Victorian book production (Richard Dalby, The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration, 1991). The illustrations were used in the publication of another book as well, The Princess Nobody by Andrew Lang (1884).

Doyle was generally regarded as being brilliant but unreliable. For example, he was consistently late with his illustrations for The Newcomes, only meeting his commitments when Thackeray threatened to give the work to another artist. Doyle's excuses were often ridiculous, and the Dalziel Brothers reported that on one occasion he failed to meet a deadline because he had 'not got any pencils'. Such amateurism hampered Doyle's success. Several books he had been commissioned to illustrate did not appear because he lacked the application needed to finish them, and completed work was often uneven in quality and 'deplorably pedestrian'.

Doyle signed many of his drawings with the depiction of a small bird standing on the initials 'RD', a reference to his nickname "Dickie" (as in "dickie bird").

[Wikipedia] div

Doyle, Richard. (Brit.) Son of John Doyle, a well-known caricaturist, from whom he inherited his talents as a draughtsman and a satirist. He was one of the early contributors to Punch in 1841, resigning his position on the staff of that journal in 1850. He has since designed the illustrations for many well-known English magazines and books, notably, The Newcomes for Thackeray; Leigh Hunt's Pot of Honey, Ruskin's King of the Golden Rule, Jack the Giant-Killer, and others. In 1854, he published, The Continental Tour of Brown, Jones, and Robinson; in 1869, The Fairy Land. He is a contributor to the exhibitions of the Grosvenor Gallery.

"It was the practice, during the first years of Punch's existence, to commence a new Wrapper with cadi succeeding volume, until Richard Doyle appeared upon the scene, and it was thought that the grotesque yet graceful combination which he supplied was far too good to be thrown aside at the expiration of six months. The proprietors of the work, therefore, very wisely caused Mr. Doyle's frontispiece to be stereotyped, and it now remains, with certain modifications, the permanent tableau on the outer covering of Punch." -- Rodder's Memoirs of my Time.

[Artists of the Nineteenth Century and their Works. A Handbook containing Biographical Sketches, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.] div

DOYLE, Richard, draughtsman and caricaturist, was born in London, September 1824. He was the second son of John Doyle (H.B.), who taught him from early childhood, and to such purpose that at the age of sixteen the boy was already an accomplished draughtsman. A remarkable specimen of his early powers is preserved in the British Museum. It is a MS. Journal, illustrated with a large number of humorous and fanciful sketches. (This work was published in facsimile by Smith, Elder and Co. in 1885.) Other productions of about the same date were, The Eglinton Tournament, and A Grand Historical, Allegorical, and Classical Procession. In 1843, two years after the establishment of Punch, Doyle, then nineteen years old, was permanently engaged on the staff. He soon attracted attention by his cartoons of leading statesmen, and later by a series of humorous designs called 'Manners and Customs of the Englyshe,' drawn from 'ye Quick by Richard Doyle.' Akin to these were the Bird's-eye Views of Society, contributed to the Cornhill Magazine. One of his happiest contributions to Punch was the now familiar cover. Besides work of this importance, Doyle further contributed to Punch innumerable small drawings, initials, and culs de lampe. His connection witli the periodical came to an end in 1850, when conscientious scruples caused him to resign his post. A sincere Roman Catholic, he felt it unseemly to associate himself with attacks directed against Papal aggression. Henceforward he worked as an illustrator of books, and as a painter in water-colours. His original drawings were chiefly of Welsh and Devon scenery, into which he loved to introduce gracefully-fantastic figures of fairies, gnomes, and pixies. Among such the most important examples are:
'The Triumphant Entry, a Fairy Pageant.' (Art. Gal., Ireland.)
'The Witch's Home.'
'The Manners and Customs of Monkeys.' (Both in the South Kensington Museum.)

Doyle was seized with apoplexy at the Athenaeum Club, December 10, 1883, and died on the next day. Among the books illustrated by him are:
Tharkeray's Rebecca and Rowena, 1850.
Ruskin's King of the Goldin River, 1851.
he Foreign Tour of Brown, Jones, and Robinson, 1854. (Begun in Punch).
Thackeray's Newcomes, 1853-5.
In Fairy Land; Elfin scenes, with verses by Mr. William Allingham. 1870.
Dickens'Battle of Life
Leigh Hunt's Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla

A number of his miscellaneous sketches are preserved in the British Museum, and in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge.

[Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, 1903] div