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Original works of art

Harry Rountree
(English, 1878 -1950 )

Born 1878, in Auckland, New Zealand, the son of a banker, and educated at Queen's College there. He arrived in London in 1901, armed with a bundle of drawings and one editorial introduction. The editor, having inspected the drawings, asked Rountree how much money he had. The surprised artist told him - and the editor promptly advised him to spend it on a return ticket to New Zealand. Rountree fortunately decided to disregard this advice and forged ahead to make a unique reputation for himself as a superlative animal artist. His animal drawings, both in colour and black-and white, were sometimes serious, but more often than not were humorous in content. He was an expert on all aspects of animal, bird and fish life and spent hours at the London Zoo watching his "subjects". He was a witty, mercurial, bubbling character, "as chirpy", someone once said, "as the sparrows he draws so well". He contributed to numerous magazines and papers, including Punch, The Sketch and The Graphic. He drew many colored covers and inside color plates for the juvenile magazine Little Folks, as well as countless pictures for all kinds of children's annuals. He did much of his best work in the coloured comic paper Playtime (1919-1929); as well as being the regular cover-artist, he contributed a double-page strip called Coral Island, or Jill and Her Jungle Friends, rather reminiscent of Mrs. Bruin and the Bruin Boys. He also illustrated many children's books, including Dumas' Fairy Tales (1904), Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson (1907), My Book of Best Fairy Tales (c. 1914), Aesop's Fables (1924), and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (1928). His distinctive and appealing rabbits and mice were made famous in a long'running series of advertisements for Mansion Polish and Cherry Blossom Boot Polish. Rountree served as a Captain in the Royal Engineers during the First World War and was at one time president of the London Sketch Club. He lived for some years in St. Ives, Cornwall, and died in September 1950.


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