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Caricature - Claude Dampier
  • Claude Dampier
    Sommerlad, Gilbert, born 1904 - died 1976
  • Enlarge image

Claude Dampier

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Oxford (made)

  • Date:

    August 1937 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sommerlad, Gilbert, born 1904 - died 1976 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Michael Sommerlad

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This caricature shows Claude Dampier (1885-1955) at the Oxford New Theatre in August 1937. It was drawn by Gilbert Sommerlad (1904-1976), a rehearsal pianist and orchestral violinist at the Brighton Theatre Royal from 1932 until 1936, and at the Oxford New Theatre from 1936 for over forty years. Sommerlad sketched the stars on stage when he wasn't needed in the orchestra pit, compiling the sketches in a series of albums.

Billed as 'The Professional Idiot', Claude Dampier, originally Claude Cowan, was a popular stage and radio comedian whose comedy persona was that of a slow-witted, provincial type. His gimmick, said to have been developed by accident, was to address a fictitious member of the audience whom he called Mrs Gibson. In 1936, 1937 and 1939 he appeared in some early television comedy sketches with his wife Billie Carlyle, who performed as his 'straight-woman'. He made numerous films in the 1930s, and was seen as Joe Tutt in his last film, Meet Mr Malcolm, released in 1954.

Physical description

Pencil caricature of Claude Dampier, New Theatre, Oxford, August 1937. From a hard-backed sketch book containing caricatures of theatrical performers and entertainers drawn by Gilbert Sommerlad.

Place of Origin

Oxford (made)


August 1937 (dated)


Sommerlad, Gilbert, born 1904 - died 1976 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil on paper


Height: 19.5 cm, Width: 12.3 cm

Object history note

Gilbert Sommerlad was a member of the resident orchestra at the New Theatre, Oxford when he drew this caricature.

Descriptive line

Pencil caricature by Gilbert Sommerlad (1904-1976) of Claude Dampier at the Oxford New Theatre in August 1937.


Pencil; Paper




Drawings; Caricatures & Cartoons; Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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