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Caricature
  • Caricature
    Cooke, George Harold, born 1881 - died 1950
  • Enlarge image

Caricature

  • Place of origin:

    Hanley (made)

  • Date:

    1 January 1904 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cooke, George Harold, born 1881 - died 1950 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and wash on paper

  • Museum number:

    S.392:30-2002

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This caricature is of the red-nosed comedian Harry Bedford when he was performing at the Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week of 31 October 1904. He was billed as ‘the original singer of “A Little Bit off the Top” and “The Cock of the North”, in his latest London successes’. Bedford was making a return appearance at the theatre that year, having already appeared there in January. This is one of the many superb caricatures of Edwardian music hall performers that were drawn by the artist George Cooke when he was based at the Grand Theatre. He compiled them in a series of albums. Bedford was on the bill that week with R. A. Roberts and Rose and Calvert, who were also drawn by Cooke.

Harry Bedford (1873-1939) began as a child performer at the Magpie Music Hall, Battersea, the Elephant and Castle Theatre and the Britannia, Hoxton. He did a variety of apprenticeships, joined a touring theatre and worked as a minstrel and clown on south coast beach shows. At the age of 15 he played cat to Vesta Tilley’s Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. He made his first solo music hall appearance in 1889 at Vento’s Varieties, Portsmouth. In 1895 he appeared at the Middlesex Music Hall in London and soon after as a solo comedian and dancer. A popular ‘low comedian’, his earliest song successes were ‘Cock of the North’ and ‘When I Get Some Money’. ‘A Little Bit off the Top’ was his first hit after he sang it at Southampton in December 1898. It was considered saucy at the time.

Physical description

Pen, ink and wash caricature on pink paper of Harry Bedford with a red nose and handlebar moustache, twirling a cane. He is wearing a straw boater with a black band, a black and yellow striped jacket over a collarless grey shirt, and grey trousers.

Place of Origin

Hanley (made)

Date

1 January 1904 (drawn)

Artist/maker

Cooke, George Harold, born 1881 - died 1950 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and wash on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Faithfully Yours Harry Bedford Nov 10th 1904. Look what's washed up by the tide.
Signature; Hand written; Pen and ink

Dimensions

Height: 25 cm approximately, Width: 18 cm approximately

Object history note

This caricature is of the music hall performer and red-nosed comedian Harry Bedford (1873-1939). After making his first appearance with Mamley's Variety Company at the Magpie Music Hall, Battersea, he took child parts at the Elephant and Castle Theatre and the Britannia Hoxton. After a variety of apprenticeships, he joined a touring theatre and also worked as a minstrel and clown on south coast beach shows. At 15 he played cat to Vesta Tilley's Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, making his first solo music hall appearance as Fred City in 1889 at Vento's Varieties, Portsmouth. In 1895 he appeared at the Middlesex Music Hall and soon after as a solo comedian and dancer. A popular low comedian, his earliest song successes were 'Cock of the North' and 'When I Get Some Money' His greatest hit was 'A Little Bit off the Top'. The caricature comes from the first of several albums compiled by the graphic artist George Cooke, featuring performers working in music hall in the early 20th century. The album is dated 1903-4-5.

Descriptive line

Caricature of the music hall performer and comic Harry Bedford (1873-1939), from an album of caricatures drawn by George Cooke. Dated 1904.

Materials

Pen and ink; Watercolour

Techniques

Drawn; Painted

Categories

Caricatures & Cartoons; Entertainment & Leisure; Drawings

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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