The Philadelphia Print Shop West has one of the largest selection of original Vanity Fair prints available anywhere. You can see our current inventory of these antique Vanity Fair prints by clicking the button below.
From 1868 until February 5, 1914, Vanity Fair, a weekly magazine of social, literary and political content, was published to the delight of Victorian and later, Edwardian England. Most popular of its features were the wonderful full page caricatures of famous men and women of the day, prints that remain Vanity Fair‘s great legacy. The two most famous artists who worked for Vanity Fair were “Ape” (Carlo Pellegrini) and “Spy” (Leslie Ward), but many other artists provided images for this long running series of delightful caricatures.
Early on, in response to a charge by The Daily News that Vanity Fair caricatures were devoid of humor, Thomas Gibson Bowles, founder, owner and editor until 1889, described the caricatures which appeared in his magazine; “There are grim faces made more grim, grotesque figures made more grotesque, and dull people made duller by the genius of our talented collaborator ‘Ape’; but there is nothing that has been treated with a set purpose to make it something that it was not already originally in a lesser degree.” To publish with these visual caricatures, Bowles also wrote the accompanying biographical commentaries under the pseudonym ‘Jehu Junior.’ Bowles’ goal in writing these epigrams was to reflect in prose that which was presented graphically.
In addition to these enduring illustrations, Vanity Fair regularly included features such as ‘Double Acrostics,’ ‘Doublets,’ and ‘Hard Cases,’ all word games, as well as book and theatre reviews, financial advice columns, serialized fiction, travel reports, fictionalized exchanges of letters and special reports on the Season. Articles on such topics as political, economic and social news were standard, though as the magazine evolved, political reports were de-emphasized in favor of society news and gossip. Though often frivolous in its topics, consistency of quality in its literary reviews, and sound advice on investments in the financial columns, show that Vanity Fair was informative as well as amusing.