Bernard Partridge was born in London on 11 October 1861, the youngest son of Professor Richard Partridge FRS, President of the Royal College of Surgeons and Professor of Anatomy at the Royal Academy, and Fanny Turner. His uncle was John Partridge, Portrait Painter Extraordinary to Queen Victoria. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, with Arthur Conan Doyle.
On leaving school Partridge worked for six months in the offices of the architect H. Hansom, whose father, Joseph Hansom, had designed the Hansom cab. He then spent two years with Lavers, Barraud & Westlake, Ecclesiastical Designers, producing altar-pieces, stained glass, etc. After this he studied decorative painting under Philip Westlake, brother of one of the company's partners, before briefly attending Heatherley's, and then the West London School of Art.
Partridge then worked as a decorator of church interiors, but freelanced as a cartoonist. His first published work appeared in Moonshine, and he also contributed cartoons and illustrations to Judy (from 1885), Playgoer, Black & White, Illustrated Bits, Illustrated London News, Lika Joko, Society, Vanity Fair (caricatures as "JBP"), Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Lady's Pictorial, New Budget, Pick-Me-Up, Quiver and the Sketch. On George du Maurier's recommendation, Partridge first contributed to Punch in February 1891. He joined the staff later that year, and worked for the magazine for over fifty years, producing political and joke cartoons as well as theatre caricatures.
These caricatures developed from Partridge's interest in the stage. From at least 1887 he worked as a professional actor under the pseudonym "Bernard Gould", and had some success in the London theatre - The Times calling him a "very clever player". In 1894 he appeared in the first production of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man at London's Avenue Theatre, and he continued to work as an actor until 1899, when he was appointed Second Cartoonist on Punch. In 1910 Partridge succeeded Linley Sambourne as Cartoonist, a position he held until his death.
At Punch his ideas were often supplied to him, and he was a reliable artist who reputedly never got uniforms wrong. However, he always felt his work was rushed to meet deadlines. Partridge also drew advertisements for Lever Brothers, Selfridges and others. Some of his political cartoons were issued as postcards by Wrench, and during the First World War he designed postcards for Blue Cross Quarantine Kennels, for soldiers bringing home their pet dogs. A fine draughtsman in the tradition of Tenniel, he was also influenced by Du Maurier and the book illustrator Hugh Thomson.
Partridge disliked using more than two figures in any cartoon, and tended to draw grandiose, statuesque figures in classical poses. He mostly worked in pen and ink on Smith's Board covered in "O.W." paper - usually 10 ( 13 in.). He also exhibited oil paintings, watercolours and pastels, and was elected to the New English Art Club in 1893 and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1896. A member of the Chelsea Arts Club and the Athenaeum Club, he was knighted in 1925. Bernard Partridge died in London on 9 August 1945.
- The Times, 11 August 1945, p.6 col.5, "Obituary: Sir Bernard Partridge."
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.169.
9 catalogued originals [BP0001 - 0009]
20s; 30s [9/5/23 - 26/5/37]