# 43866

McCRAE, Hugh (1876-1958)

[SYDNEY] Original artwork for an unpublished cartoon satirising a “theatrical” cricket match at Rushcutter’s Bay Oval on 29 January 1926.

$330.00 AUD

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Pen and ink on paper, 180 x 195 mm (sheet), signed and dated in image lower left ‘McCrae ’26’; with the artist’s pencilled caption across lower margin: “It’s your run, Miss Burke!”; newspaper cutting from the Sydney Evening News, 28 January 1926, pasted-down by the artist at lower right, explaining the context of the cartoon; in good condition, on its original card mount improvised from the back cover of a Croxley writing pad (foxed).

An artistic curio relating to one of the social events held during the Katja Company’s time in Sydney in 1926.

In 1926 the British musical comedy troupe known as the Katja Company were brought out to Australia by local promoter and impresario J. C. Williamson. They were hugely popular with audiences along the east coast and the tour was extremely successful. There was a public outpouring of sympathy when many of the company, including its star, Marie Burke, were involved in the infamous Aberdeen train crash in the Upper Hunter Valley on 10 June 1926, in which four people died.

The newspaper cutting Hugh McCrae pasted onto his cartoon is only the first part of a brief article in the Sydney Evening News, 28 January 1926. Here is the full text:

THEATRICAL MATCH. At Rushcutter’s Bay Oval to-morrow afternoon the ladles of the ‘Katja’ company wlll play the gentlemen at cricket. Miss Marie Burke is captain on one side, and will have as her opponent ‘call boy’. The play will commence at 1.30 p.m. The gentlemen are to bat left-handed. The teams Include::—
Ladies Team: — Miss Marie Burke (captain), Miss Hicklin, Babette O’deal, Misses Maxwell, Greenhill, Day, Guy, Harriett, Ralston, Bennett, Browne, Obst, Guy and Barret. Gent.’s team: — Messrs. Cecil Kellaway,
Warde Morgan, Charles Zoll, Garrett, Gainsford, Gormley, McCallum, Hawthorne, Ald. McElhone, Mr. R. Barrett-Lennard.’

Today, Hugh McCrae (1876-1958) is best remembered as a poet – in particular for his celebrated book collaborations with Norman Lindsay – but he was also a talented sketcher and draughtsman who might well have been able to succeed as a full-time commercial artist had he seriously pursued such a career. As Martha Rutledge and Norman Cowper note in their ADB entry on McCrae:

Unworldly and perennially hard up, McCrae received a Commonwealth Literary Fund pension of £52 a year from 1926, except for 1928 when with Ernest Watt he was joint editor (at £7 a week) of the New Triad: in 1941 his pension was increased to £2 a week. Otherwise he scraped a meagre living by contributing theatre criticisms, prose sketches, pen drawings and cartoons to Melbourne Punch, the Bulletin, Art in Australia, Home and other journals, and poems to the Sydney Morning Herald….’

When he executed this pen-and-ink cartoon, McCrae no doubt felt that with its glamorous subject – the pin-up girl of the day, Marie Burke – it might be successfully submitted to a periodical. Alas, it appears that no editor accepted it for publication.