BOOK REVIEW: A CARTOON HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE

For the first entry in our vintage book review, we study ‘A Cartoon History of Architecture’ by Sir Osbert Lancaster.

Sir Osbert Lancaster was a prominent English comic artist, author and critic who was best known for his cartoons in the Daily Express. They cleverly observed British history and contemporary life and fashion. He illustrated several books by different authors as well as  many of his own. He was knighted in 1975, and died shortly before his 78th birthday in 1986.

In 1959 he published a fabulous compendium of architectural styles chronicling tastes and trends through history, including both well-known types and those much lesser-known, perhaps coined by Lancaster himself; Aldwych Farcical, Wimbledon Transitional , Pseudish, etc.

Each type described with plenty of interesting detail, and accompanied by a beautiful pen and ink drawing. Lancaster clearly knows his subject and demonstrates a fantastic eye for detail. His confident traces and line work shows he is a superb draftsman, giving plenty of character to even simple details.