Bagpipes & Kilts: Researching a Scottish Cartoon Collection
Posted on November 25, 2013
I began working for the Permanent Collection my very first semester at Wheaton and have since had the opportunity to assist with a variety of tasks ranging from cataloguing Italian prints to hanging artwork and from painting in the Beard & Weil Galleries to creating a mini-exhibition of new acquisitions of African art and material culture. In one of my ongoing projects, I am processing a collection of cartoons, all with a Scottish theme. The collection was originally acquired by the Gebbie Archives & Special Collections and was transferred to the Permanent Collection in 2011. Comprised of 63 drawings, some created on thick matboard, others drawn on thin paper, the collection appears to have been created in the 1920s or 1930s. Rather than depicting a single narrative, the cartoons feature several story lines, most of which contain images and explanatory text. For example, in one set of drawings, a group of fishermen reel in a giant fish and, upon returning to shore, are richly rewarded by their town's mayor. As one might expect, many of the works contain images of men in kilts, attempts at bagpipe playing, and other scenes from daily life in Scotland. Another series of images depict men losing bottles of whiskey in humorous circumstances ranging from the realistic to the surreal. The drawings are signed with the name Gladys Bengough. Despite hours of research, my quest for information about the artist or her life and work has proven futile. Although we know nothing about Ms. Bengough, her colorful cartoons are a quirky, comedic asset to our collection.
-Mandy Prue, Class of 2016