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Vanity Fair Golf Print 'Mr. John Ball'


More about: Libero Prosperi

Category: Golf

Subcategory: Paintings & Prints

Vanity Fair Golf Print 'Mr. John Ball'.
This is a single golfing Vanity Fair lithographic portrait print 'Mr. John Ball jun'. An original print of John Ball printed March 5th, 1892, by Vincent Brooks Day & Son, Lith. The print is framed and is in good condition. 'Spy' is credited to all of the golfing caricatures except John Ball, who was drawn by 'Lib', the Italian Libero Prosperi.
When first published in the weekly additions of Vanity Fair each caricature would come with an amusing biography, Ball's was:-

Mr. John Ball, Junior.
Born at Hoylake eight-and-twenty years ago, he comes of an old Cheshire stock; his fathers having been farmers in the parish of West Kirby for seve hundred years. Yet he might never have become famous had he not learned to play the ancient game of golf. He has, however, acquired so much skill in that means of passing time that he has won all the scratch prizes given in Hoylake. He has twice been amateur champion; has won the St. George Challenge Vase four times in succession, and-greatest triumph of all - has once carried off the Open Championship: a feat which has yet been achieved by no other amateur. He is now inclined to be the best non-professional golfer in England; and if he putted better he would probably be invincible. As it is, his cleek play is his best point.
He is a retiring, well-favoured young person, yet he is liked. He knows how to run a hurdle-race, he is a good man to hounds, and he is a fair shot. He also knows something abpout farming; and he is very nearly a teetotaller.
His common name is 'Johnnie.' Jehu Junior.

They say if major championships are the yardstick, no British player of any generation matches John Ball. He was 26 when he took his first title in 1888, and was in his 51st year when the eighth came his way in 1912.

In total 13 golfing caricatures were created, all but one of the supplements was taken from 'Vanity Fair', the single one was from 'The World'. Although all of the prints are associated with golf, only the first nine listed here are shown in a golfing manner. They are 1) Mr. Horace G.Hutchinson. 2) Mr. John Ball, junior. 3) Mure Fergusson, 'Muir'. 4) Mr. Horace Harold Hilton, 'Hoylake'. 5) Mr. Robert Maxwell, 'North Berwick'. 6) John Henry Taylor, 'John Henry'. 7) James Braid, 'Jimmy'. 8) H. Mallaby-Deeley, 'The Prince of Princes'. 9) The Right Honorable D.Lloyd George. The others in the set are, 10) The Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, ' the Irish Secretary'. 11) The Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, 'Dialectics'. 12) Mr. George D. Rowe, 'A celebrated oarsman who prefers cricket to rowing and golf to both'. 13) Marshall Roberts, 'Easton Hall'.

When first published in the weekly additions of Vanity Fair each caricature would come with an amusing biography.

Vanity Fair was published in London from 1869 to 1914, and each magazine would contain a loose print of a caricature painted by various artists. 'Spy' worked for Vanity Fair for 40 years until it ceased publication in 1914. 'Spy' was Sir Leslie Ward (1851 - 1922) and he was the grandson of the well-known horse-painter James Ward. Sir Leslie Ward is best known as an artist working in oil, water-colour and black-and-white, although he also studied architecture. 'Spy' achieved notoriety by his painting and cartoons of public figures in VF and his works all contain the signature 'SPY'. His works were also published in the supplements, the most well known being 'Men of the Day'. By 1890 the leading amateur golfing personalities were thought enough of to be included into this title. Eight golfers were subjects portrayed in the Vanity Fair series, the twice-Amateur Champion Horace Hutchinson being the first. Second in 1892 was John Ball, who that year won the third of his eight Amateur Championships. In 1903 there was 'Muir' and 'Hoylake'. In 1906 saw another Amateur Champion in 'North Berwick'. Also in 1906 saw the inclusion of professional golfers as 'Men of the Day', with 'John Henry' being the first and the following year 'Jimmy'. 'The Prince of Princes'' was the final golfer in Vanity Fair in 1909 although 'Spy' was also to portray the future Prime Minister with a golf club in hand for The World magazine.

  • Year: 1892
  • Dimensions:
    H 32cm x W 19.5cm
    H 12½" x W 7½"

  • Framed Dimensions:
    H 51.5cm x W 36cm
    H 20¼" x W 14"

  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Exhibition: Champions, Hookers & Dew Sweepers No.23
  • Reference Number: 21014