The Liverpool Academy of Arts

Randolph Caldecott

UK Randolph Caldecott Society Thas been created by the UK Randolph Caldecott Society to increase public interest, appreciation and knowlwdge of Caldecott and his work. It contains a fine range of artefacts, illustrations, paintings sculptures by Caldecott.

Click on the Caldecott image to the right to go to their website.

One aspect of the societies work is the funding of prizes for art students at the North Wales Institute (which includes the Wrexham School of Art and Design), the West Cheshire College and the Queen's School Chester. Many of the works from this years competion and winners from previous years are included in the exhibition. Some samples images are shown at the bottom of the page.

The exhibiton is open from 12 to 4 Monday to Friday until the 23rd May.

Below are images of some of the exhibits. Just click on an image to see it full size in our viewer:-

Randolph Caldecott

Randolph Caldecott was born in Bridge Street, one of Chester's unique 'rows'.  His father was a hatter and sent his soon to the King's school where he was elected head boy. 

From a young age he roamed the countryside drawing country life and pursuits and making wood carvings and clay models.   In 1861 he witnesses the fire at the Queen Railway hotel, Chester.  He drew it and sent it to the Illustrated London News.  This became his first published work.  Aged 15 he was sent to work at Whitchurch 20 miles from Chester.  He took up hunting, shooting and fishing from which he drew inspiration for his drawings.    At this time he began his life long style of correspondence, including humorous sketches in his letters for the amusement of the recipient.  Many of these charming letters exist today.  

He was described as tall, handsome, with light brown hair, grey eyes and charming disposition.  In 1867 he obtained a better job in a bank in Manchester.   Here he studied art in the evenings and joined the Brasenose Club where he met other artists.  His drawings were published in a comic paper called “Will o’ the Wisp” in 1868, and in 1869 he exhibited at the Manchester Institution.

He realised that London was the place for an aspiring artist and gained an introduction to Thomas Armstrong, a London interior decorator, who in turn introduced him to the editor of Punch, and publications followed.  Armstrong also showed Caldecott’s drawings to “London Society’s” Henry Blackburn and publications started in 1871. His work was now appearing alongside that of eminent artists such as Du Maurier, Poynter and Millais.  Blackburn selected drawings from Caldecott which were engraved by the master printer J D Cooper, who was to become critical to Caldecott’s eventual success as an illustrator. 

In 1872, at the age of 26, Caldecott decided to risk all and moved to London.  

“The Recognition”

A painting in oil by Radolph Caldecoott. A painting with the same title was sold at the sale of “The Remaining Works of that highly talented artist Randolph Caldecott.” The auction sale was conducted on Frady June 11, 1886 (only four months after his death in London by Messrs Christie, Mason & Woods. A copy of the catalogue is also on show at the exhibition and shows lot 191 fetched £14-3-6.

The Recognition

Height: 28 inches; Width: 40 inches; Kindly lent by the Whitchurch Heritage Centre

Height: 6 inches; Width: 13 inches; Kindly lent from a private collection

“Horse Fair in Brittany” bronze bass relief by Caldecott. Shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1876. When Caldecott came to London in 1872, following successful sketches for London society, he became aware of his lack of fine art training. He studied Life drawing under E J Poyneter and then, in 1873, wax and clay modelling under Joules Dalou the French modeller and creator of monumental sculpture who, as a republican, had been forced to leave France in 1871. Dalou agreed to teach Caldecott sculpture if he taught him English. In 1874 and 1875 Caldecott produced many fine terracotta models inspired by his visit to Brittany. The famous cat “about to spring” now in the Victoria and Albert museum was done in December 1874. Dalou pressed Caldecott to produce a work for the Summer Exhibition in 1876 and this bronze was well received. However Caldecott decided to remain an illustrator rather than become a fine artist. (Kindly lent form a private collection)

"Jack's Cat". 

This terracotta model is a replica of the cat made by Randolph Caldecott now in the Victoria and Albert museum.  The original was used by Caldecott in his drawings for "The House that Jack Built"

This replica was made as No 3 of 5 by Valerie Kyle in 2004.

Songs of Innocence and Experience

Length: 13 inches

Height: 8 inches; Width: 6.5 inches;

Kindly lent from a private collection

This letter was written by Caldecott to a friend in March 1876 at the time that the success of his illustration of Washington Irving’s “Old Christmas” became apparent. Typically Caldecott’s letters included humorous sketches to amuse the recipient. This letter has two charming sketches. The one shown is of Mr J D Cooper, who engraved the illustrations, eagerly reading aloud plaudits from the newspaper to and unsuitably chastened Caldecott. The letter records that H M Queen Victoria has purchased 14 copies! Variants of this sketch appear in a number of letters of this time. (Kindly lent from a private collection)

Portrait by  Randolph of his brother Alfred Caldecott.

Randolph had been a scholar of King's School, Chester 1856 - 1860.  His younger brother Alfred attended the school 1860 - 1865.  Subsequently Alfred became Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral.

Randolph Caldecott images have been widely used in many forms from biscuit tins to postcards. On the left is a set of four postcards several more of which can be seen at the exhibition as can many of his picture books for children which were produced at Christmas time from 1878 to 1885. To this day copies of these are still being published.

Some Samples from the Art Competition

The Diverting History of John Gilpin

The Diverting History of John Gilpin



Height: 16 inches; Width: 13 inches;

An original after “The Diverting History of John Gilpin” by Kristeen Harris-Jones (Illustration for children’s publishing) Kristeen Harris-Jones won the Randolph Caldecott Society Prize in 2007 at the North Wales College of Art and Design at NEWI in Wrexham. She is currently with Plum Pudding Illustrations Agency working with various publishers

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey DIddle Diddle


Vicky Williams


Height: 16 inches; Width: 22 inches;

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a Song of Sixpence


Kathyrn Dennis

Folded paper

Height: 25 inches; Width: 20 inches;

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey Diddle Diddle


Romilley Jardine


Height: 115 inches; Width: 14 inches;