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Maidstone Museum hosts acclaimed portraits by caricaturist Robert Sherriffs depicting Hollywood's Golden Age

By Nick Lillitos

Considered daft by some for using a brush instead of a pen for drawing, caricaturist Robert Sherriffs is having the last laugh in Maidstone.

His acclaimed portraits bringing to life Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1920s and 1930s are on show at the Bentlif Art Gallery in St Faith’s Street. They’ve arrived courtesy of the Cartoon Museum in London, taken from his collection of works.

And it is the first time they have been displayed since they were drawn during that period. The collection was donated by the artist’s daughter, Alexandra.

The Remote Austerity of Garbo (1935). Picture: The Cartoon Museum, London

Sherriffs’ work is described by experts as one of elegant flowing lines, bordering on sculptural abstraction.

He employed a highly stylised use of texture and pattern to conjure up the glamour of the era.

Featured are Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Shirley Temple, Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks, to name but a few.

Chaplin having realised his ambition to play Hamlet (1929). Picture: The Cartoon Museum, London

The unique exhibition –The Age of Glamour: RS Sherriffs’ Stars of Stage and Screen – runs until tomorrow (Sunday).

Before he died aged 54 from cancer in 1960, he drew dramatic stage and film caricatures for the likes of Punch, the Daily Sketch, the Radio Times.

He once opined: “The brush was better than the pen for all manner of drawings, and confirmed my previous convictions that figures and faces were patterns to be studied and memorised – not patiently drawn from life.”

The late caricaturist Robert Sherriffs. Picture: The Cartoon Museum, London

His most famous works were produced from studio stills or drawn after brief visits to preview screenings.

Amy Adams, interpretation manager at Maidstone Musuem, which houses the gallery, said: “It is a real privilege to show his work here.

“This sparks a partnership with The Cartoon Museum that we hope to develop.”

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