MR. GEORGE GRAVES IN "PRINCESS CAPRICE"
H. M. BATEMAN
WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY A. E. JOHNSON
DUCKWORTH & CO.
3 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN
First Published 1916
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY WM. BRENDON AND SON, LTD.
Mr. H. M. Bateman possesses in remarkable degree that rare gift, a real power of comic draughtsmanship. He is capable not only of comic vision, but of comic expression. His "line" is an instinctive expression of the comic: it reveals an innate feeling for the essentially humorous. To put it briefly, if somewhat vaguely, he "draws funnily." He is the terse and witty pictorial raconteur—a shrewd observer who can sum up a character, or conjure up a scene, with a few strokes of such penetrating insight that they carry instant conviction.
Humour of the kind which the drawings in this volume embody is so spontaneous, and the expression of it so direct and incisive, that there is perhaps a tendency to overlook the intensity of the effort which produces the seemingly effortless result. Mr. Bateman's method is sometimes described as caricature, but that is to miss its true significance, though the term may seem, upon the surface, appropriate enough. Caricature is the art of inducing humour, by dint of satirical exaggeration, in a subject not necessarily humorous of itself. Mr. Bateman's more difficult function is to reveal humour, not to impose it.
There is no trace of the self-conscious humorist in these drawings. Facetiousness is a quality conspicuously and gratefully absent. The artist's only concern is to pluck the very heart out of his subject, and that his mind has a trend towards the humorous aspect of life is merely accidental. For it is the humour of life, not merely of men, that attracts him, and even when he deals with seemingly quite trivial subjects, there is nothing petty or trite about his comic treatment of them.
He generalises. His observations are of types, not of individuals, of situations rather than of scenes. He draws for us people whom we all know but none of us have actually seen, for when he portrays a type his sketch embodies all the salient characteristics that go to make that type. If he draws a plumber, for example, he shows us the Compleat Plumber—more like a plumber than any plumber ever was. And as with character, so with action—whatever Mr. Bateman elects to make his puppets do, they do it with an intensity and vigour beyond all practical possibility, but not (and this is the artist's secret) beyond the bounds of imagination and belief. When a man is seen running in a Bateman drawing he does not merely run—he runs; if he slumbers,