John Tenniel Biography, John Tenniel Wiki
Sir John Tenniel was an English illustrator, graphic humorist, and political cartoonist prominent in the second half of the 19th century. He was knighted for his artistic achievements in 1893. Tenniel is remembered especially as the principal political cartoonist for Punch magazine for over 50 years, and for his illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871).
According to Britannica, he was an “English illustrator and satirical artist,” who was also known for his work in Punch and 1872’s Through the Looking-Glass. As Google put it, “Tenniel is one of the most highly-regarded Victorian illustrators and painters.”
Fast Facts You Need to Know
John Tenniel Bio
Tenniel was born in Bayswater, West London, to John Baptist Tenniel, a fencing and dancing master of Huguenot descent, and Eliza Maria Tenniel. Tenniel had five siblings; two brothers and three sisters. One sister, Mary, was later to marry Thomas Goodwin Green, owner of the pottery that produced Cornishware. Tenniel was a quiet and introverted person, both as a boy and as an adult. He was content to remain firmly out of the limelight and seemed unaffected by competition or change. His biographer Rodney Engen wrote that Tenniel’s “life and career was that of the supreme gentlemanly outside, living on the edge of respectability.”
In 1840, Tenniel, while practising fencing with his father, received a serious eye wound from his father’s foil, which had accidentally lost its protective tip. Over the years, Tenniel gradually lost sight in his right eye; he never told his father of the severity of the wound, as he did not wish to upset his father further.
In spite of his tendency towards high art, Tenniel was already known and appreciated as a humorist and his early companionship with Charles Keene fostered and developed his talent for scholarly caricature.
Tenniel was born to John Baptist Tenniel. He was a “fencing and dancing master of Huguenot descent,” according to Victorian-Era.org.
Tenniel’s mother was named Eliza Maria Tenniel. The site described the youthful Tenniel as “a quiet and very introverted person,” both as a child and adult.
In fact, his father’s fencing left him with a wound to his eye. He lost his eyesight in one eye after the injury while practicing with his dad. He never told his father this occurred in order to spare the man’s feelings, the site reports.
Tenniel attended the Royal Academy schools and, according to Britannica, in 1836, he “sent his first picture to the exhibition of the Society of British Artists.” Google notes that he was only 16 years old at this time, so his artistic talents emerged early on.
Nine years later, his 16-foot cartoon was entered in a mural decoration design contest at the new Palace of Westminster, Britannica reports, saying that he received a commission for a fresco in the House of Lords’ Hall of Poets.
This got him some attention, and five years after that, he became a joint cartoonist for Punch, which was a periodical where he would work for “most of his life,” according to Britannica.
Tenniel’s first book illustration was for Samuel Carter Hall’s The Book of British Ballads, in 1842. While engaged with his first book illustrations, various contests were taking place in London, as a way in which the government could combat the growing Germanic Nazarenes style and promote a truly national English school of art. Tenniel planned to enter the 1845 House of Lords competition amongst artists to win the opportunity to design the mural decoration of the new Palace of Westminster. Despite missing the deadline, he submitted a 16-foot (4.9 m) cartoon, An Allegory of Justice, to a competition for designs for the mural decoration of the new Palace of Westminster. For this he received a £200 premium and a commission to paint a fresco in the Upper Waiting Hall (or Hall of Poets) in the House of Lords.
Image and text in Alice
One unusual aspect of the Alice books is the placing of Tenniel’s illustrations on the pages. This physical relation of illustrations to text meshes them together. Carroll and Tenniel expressed this in various ways. One was bracketing: two relevant sentences would bracket an image as a way of imparting the moment that Tenniel was trying to illustrate. This bracketing of Tenniel’s pictures with text adds to their “dramatic immediacy.” However, other, less frequent illustrations work with the texts as captions.
Another link between illustration and text is the use of broader and narrower illustrations. Broader ones are meant to be centred on the page, narrower to be “let in” or run flush to the margin, alongside a narrow column of continuing text. Still, words run in parallel with the depiction of those things. For example, when Alice says, “Oh, my poor little feet!”, it not only occurs at the foot of the page but is right next to her feet in the illustration. Some of these narrower illustrations are “L”-shaped, and of great importance as some of his most memorable work. The top or base of these illustrations runs the full width of the page, but the other end leaves room on one side for text.
John Tenniel Google Doodle
According to Google, Tenniel had a “distinctive style, due in part to his near-photographic memory.”
That’s what interested Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson. He was a professor who had come up with a new book called Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He asked Tenniel to illustrate it.
After that point, they continued working together and created classic characters like the Cheshire Cat and Alice. Indeed, these characters are some of the most familiar to children throughout the world.
The man who created the Google Doodle, Matthew Cruickshank, told Google: “As a child, reading ‘Alice In Wonderland.’ I thought the combination of poetic writing and the hauntingly beautiful & bizarre illustrations were a perfect combination.”
According to Alice-in-Wonderland.net, Carroll micromanaged Tenniel’s illustrations, even having him change Alice’s face at one point. The engravings were done with woodblocks.
John Tenniel Death
Tenniel died on 25 February 1914. His cartoons dealt with the issues of the Victorian Era. They were “issues of working class radicalism, labour, war, economy, and other national themes,” according to Pook Press.
He was his country’s “foremost political and satirical cartoonist,” the site reports. In particular, he was negative toward Irish nationalists in his cartoons.
After he died at age 93, Daily Graphic wrote, “He had an influence on the political feeling of this time which is hardly measurable… While Tenniel was drawing them (his subjects), we always looked to the Punch cartoon to crystallize the national and international situation, and the popular feeling about it – and never looked in vain.”