These First World War propaganda drawings by the celebrated Irish illustrator Hugh Thomson are rare examples of his late work.

Thomson was born in Coleraine, now in Northern Ireland, and had no formal training in art. At 17 he began working at the Belfast publishing company Marcus Ward & Co, which is where he first began illustrating books. In 1883 Thomson moved to London and began working for the publisher Macmillan & Co, for whom he illustrated books by many great writers, including Jane Austen, JM Barrie, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and William Shakespeare. In October 1917 the art critic Isidore Spielmann commissioned Thomson to create an anti-German cartoon for his propaganda pamphlet, Open Letter to Herr Maximillian Harden. Spielmann later commissioned four more cartoons in the series, including Germany’s War Aims (pictured left) and Germany’s Impending Doom (pictured right). The political content of these works makes them unique in Thomson’s oeuvre. The Coleraine Museum has the largest publicly accessible collection of Thomson’s work, including 1,246 illustrations, books and letters. These two drawings now join them there.


Comissioned by Sir Isidore Spielmann; by descent to a private owner.

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