The cartoonist, Bernard Partridge was born in London in 1861. After his education at Stonyhurst, he joined an architects office and studied stained-glass design. He also acted in several plays (adopting the name Bernard Gould) and for a time was uncertain between a career in the performing arts or the graphic arts. Partridge was invited, by George Du Maurier, to contribute to Punch in 1891. His early drawings were illustrations to play reviews. The following year Partridge was asked to become a staff cartoonist with the magazine. In 1901 Partridge became the chief cartoonist at Punch. He was knighted in 1925 and died in 1945. Partridge's work reflect his theatrical background and many of his figures take a footlights-type pose. His cartoons display a very high standard of draughtsmanship and he was considered to be one of the most accomplished artists employed by Punch. The precise detail in his cartoons are an excellent record of late Victorian and Edwardian life.


 

This cartoon illustrates a variety fashions by the different characters and typical of the social etiquette of the time, and the caption references men's fashion features. In 1846 Queen Victoria commissioned a scaled down version of a sailor's suit for the young Prince of Wales. It reflected the importance and power of the Royal Navy, and became a very popular form of leisure wear for boys—and later also for girls. The boy here wears a sailor's wide brimmed straw hat, a tunic with knee-length shorts and socks. His misunderstanding of the word garçon as boy for the waiter, is in reference to the uniform for Eton schoolboys. Up to the height of 5ft 4in (1.6 metres), the boys wore short jackets and turned-down starched white collars. The uniform then changed to a tailcoat and stiff high collars (stick-ups) for the taller boys.

This cartoon was published in Punch at the turn of the twentieth century. The different characters represent the main countries at the time taking their chances on the spin of the roulette wheel. Various colonial wars were in process or soon to happen and later on many of the empires represented here collapsed.

The deficiencies in organisation and medical health of the British Army in a modern conflict became evident in the South African (Boer) War of 1899-1902. While stationed in many garrisons throughout the British Empire, the military policy followed accepted formal rules of engagement in warfare. But this created more pressure on the frontline soldiers and in the South African War, the Boers used a type of guerrilla approach. As a consequence the British military and political leadership failed to come to terms with these new tactics and made policy decisions which lead to early defeats. An additional concern was the poor medical facilities and many deaths occurred from illness than as direct casualties of war. Accordingly there was an urgent need for reform and this was initiated by the then Secretary of War, St. John Brodrick. He advised a substantial increase in Army expenditure. With the resulting Defence Budget favouring the Army, less was allocated to Naval expenditure.

The origins of the game of Bridge are uncertain but it appears to have been based on another card game called Russian Whist. The name Bridge was possibly a mispronunciation of the original foreign name for the game. It was imported into England in the middle of the nineteenth century and ultimately developed into its present form at the start of the twentieth century. It's popularity spread throughout all classes of society as this cartoon illustrates.
This cartoon adapts a popular Victorian painting, The Pursuit of Pleasure by Sir Noel Paton to illustrate the essence of its subject. Paton specialised in painting fairy, allegorical and historical scenes. He was one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood group of artists and first exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1884. He died in Edinburgh in 1901.

The British Labour Party was formed in 1900 to represent the working man, who's problems were felt to be ignored by the existing political system - the Conservatives and the Liberals. It was supported by Trades Unions and its Socialist ideals were considered a threat to a capitalist society. In its infancy it had little power, but as it grew it became a force to be reckoned with.