Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ronald Searle Puns on Pigs

Today, the 93rd anniversary of the birth of illustrator Ronald Searle, seems as fitting a time as any to visit the odd subject of puns on pigs. Yes, today's topic is pig puns. There will always be those--you know who you are!--who consider puns the lowest form of humor, and puns about pigs even lower. I disagree, of course, as puns require using quirks of language to discover an unusual connection where one didn't seem to exist before. And if a pig is involved in the enterprise, well, so much the better.

With Searle, though, the humor of the pun is even further enhanced by the vitality of the drawing. The pun becomes almost incidental, merely a launching point for a superbly executed drawing or, in the second example, lithograph.

The drawing below is called Nottingham, named for a city in the East Midlands of England.

Ronald Searle, Nottingham


The lithograph, playing cleverly on the name of a Tchaikovsky ballet, is called Swine Lake. You didn't see that coming, did you?

Ronald Searle, Swine Lake, No. 37/99
Bonhams, Oxford, February 20, 2013[%27-value_low%27]&back_to_year=2003&date_range=past&main_index=lot&department=&query=Swine+Lake&create_facets=False&value_data_range_display=

Ronald Searle, Swine Lake, 1980, No. 37/99
Bonhams, Oxford, February 20, 2013
Sold for 237 GBP, including premium[%27-value_low%27]&back_to_year=2003&date_range=past&main_index=lot&department=&query=Swine+Lake&create_facets=False&value_data_range_display=

April 11, 2013 Update:  How could I have forgotten Pigmalion? Thanks to Matt Jones for reminding me of this original lithograph.
Ronald Searle, Pigmalion, 1983, Hors commerce

Note:  It seems Nottingham may have been sold with another drawing bearing a pig pun title, But Unhampered. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has an image of this drawing, or indeed any other Searle puns on pigs. I believe it's safe to say no other blog has ever made such a request of its readers.



  1. Wonderful! I knew there was something special about today's date but couldn't quite put my finger on it until your reminder! I'll update the Searle blog this week with more Pigs and some puns!