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George Denholm Armour, animal painter and cartoonist, was born at Waterside, Lanarkshire on the 30th January 1864. After attending St Andrews University, he moved to Edinburgh, where he studied at the School of Art and the RSA Schools. It was through the RSA that he met Robert Alexander and travelled with him to Tangiers in 1885 to paint and also to buy cheap horses, only returning when their money ran out. It was on a subsequent expedition to Tangiers that he met Joseph Crawhall, who remained a great friend until the latter’s untimely death in 1913. Both hunting mad, upon their return to England the two friends ran a stud together at Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, where Crawhall continued to influence his friend’s work. The household only broke up when Armour married, with Crawhall standing as his best man.Although always a fine draughtsman, it was after he met Crawhall that Armour developed the subtle but strong drawing style seen in his work for Punch and other publications. He was first illustrated in The Graphic in 1890, while sharing a studio with Phil May in London, and from 1894 concentrated largely on his cartoon work. He contributed to Punch for 35 years, although never entirely abandoning his hunting and shooting watercolours and washes. He was appointed OBE in 1919, following his command of the army’s remount depot in Salonika.His love of the outdoors, horses and his work are interwoven. When hunting he always carried a sketch book, while his total commitment to his horses led to his converting half his studio into a stable. It is this great enthusiasm which lends so many of his animal portrayals their power and flowing movement, just as his sense of humour, wit and keen observation of outdoor pursuits give his cartoon illustrations their appeal. Caw states that in comparison to the works of other exponents of the pictured ‘sporting joke’, in ‘draughtsmanship and design they are incomparably finer.’

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Programme Design for a Hunt Ball
Armour was born in Waterside, Lanarkshire and studied at St Andrews University, Edinburgh School of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy Schools. He...
Sarah Colegrave