E J Sullivan Fourteen Original Cartoon Drawings Political Satire German Interference in Ireland World War I 1917 1918


Sullivan, Edmund J. A Collection of Fourteen Original Pen-and-Ink Cartoon Drawings. They were drawn first in pencilthen retraced in ink by Edmund J. SullivanThese anti-German drawings came after the Irish Uprising during Easter Week in 1916, in which Germany sought to arm the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In the 1918 General Election, the last all-island election held in Ireland, Republicans won 73 seats out of 105, on a policy of separation from Westminster and Irish independence. E. J. Sullivan’s cartoons relating to Germany’s involvement in Ireland document the view held in Westminster that Germany was exploiting the desire for Irish independence for Germany’s own selfish strategic goals, as personified by the Kaiser. Manuscript annotations on the verso of some of the sketches allow an insight into Edmund J. Sullivan’s creative process, as he describes the meaning behind his cartoons. 


Sullivan, Edmund J. A Collection of Fourteen Original Pen-and-Ink Cartoon Drawings. They were drawn first in pencil, then retraced in ink by Edmund J. Sullivan. These anti-German drawings came after the Irish Uprising during Easter Week in 1916, in which Germany sought to arm the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In the 1918 General Election, the last all-island election held in Ireland, Republicans won 73 seats out of 105, on a policy of separation from Westminster and Irish independence. E. J. Sullivan’s cartoons relating to Germany’s involvement in Ireland document the view held in Westminster that Germany was exploiting the desire for Irish independence for Germany’s own selfish strategic goals, as personified by the Kaiser. Manuscript annotations on the verso of some of the sketches allow an insight into Edmund J. Sullivan’s creative process, as he describes the meaning behind his cartoons. 

Edmund Joseph Sullivan (1869 – 1933) followed in his artist father’s footsteps, when he chose to work as an artist, choosing book illustration and graphic design. The acerbic satire evident in these anti-German cartoons shows Sullivan’s enormous talent and his ability to work under a rush order deadline.  

“The Evolution of Wilhelm,” signed and dated in the upper right-hand corner Edmund J. Sullivan  ‘18.” An image of an Irish cross monument, around which a large snake has wound itself. At the foot of the monument is a grieving woman with her shawl drawn tightly around her. In the foreground, the Kaiser plays the violin in disguise, wearing a mardi gras mask and a crowned eagle on his hat. The inscription, “In Memory of Irish Soldiers Who Fell Fighting the Hun, on the base of the monument. On the verso is the following annotation: “The Evolution of Wilhelm / The Shan van voght and the snake charmer. / The Kaiser, disguised as an Irishman sneaks in professing to comfort the shan van voght, / in her sorrow; and surreptitiously charms back the snake. ‘Tu l’as voulu, St. Georges.’ / by Edmund J. Sullivan, ARWS.” (The Sean-Bhean bhocht, Irish for the “Poor old woman” often spelled phonetically in this song as “Shan Van Vocht”), is a traditional Irish song from the period of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and dating in particular to the lead up to a French expedition to Bantry Bay, that ultimately failed to get ashore in 1796.) Pencil annotations below the image relate to publication.  

Unsigned. With a pencil annotation under the unfinished work-in-progress: “The Shan Van Voght fears for the Black — — — awake.” As the Kaiser walks away, wearing a mardi gras mask, with a violin under his left arm, disguised in beggar’s clothes with his pipe stuck in the headband of his hat, a man — still in pencil draft — calls after him with his right hand raised, while holding the body of a dead youth on his left arm. 

“The Hidden Hand in Ireland,” signed and dated “Edmund J. Sullivan 1917” in the upper right-hand corner. Titled by the artist on the verso. An image of the Kaiser disguised in mardi gras mask, wearing a large shamrock, with another shamrock above his head with the German eagle superimposed on it. He has a Bavarian porcelain pipe stuck into the headband of his hat. The Kaiser also has a bottle sticking out of his pocket, and he is carrying a tassled parade standard. There is an illegible pencil annotation above the image in the right-hand corner.  

“To the Shan Van Voght,” ink over pencil , unsigned, but with the title and a working legend in pencil below the image of Kaiser Wilhelm I sitting on a rail fence singing, while holding a tuba: “Den for a vife til death I am villin to take ze / But och I vant my bread — de deffil himself can’t wake ze /It chust begins to rain, zo I’d get under cover / —– so I can’t blame him.” 

“The Kaiser’s Shooting Party,” signed Edmund J. Sullivan and dated 1918 in the lower right-hand corner. On the verso is the title and a description of the image by the artist: “The Kaiser is a great sportsman. When he asked for a right of way through his little neighbor’s garden in order to poach the game on the other side, and was refused, he sportively shot his little neighbor, and a great number of his retainers, men, women and children – and burnt the house whose security he had guaranteed. Yet somehow he can hardly be called a popular man.” There are pencil annotations on the front and back relating to publication. 

“The Power Behind the Throne,” 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed, “E.J. Sullivan 1918.” With working annotations on the verso and a final copy under the title “The Power Behind the Throne”: “The Kaiser, like Faust, having signed himself to the powers of evil, is now in the grip of his own soul — and try as he may to treat his bond as “a scrap of paper” even his devoted followers must fear for his end. His stars radiate darkness. By Edmund J. Sullivan, ARWS / 18 Hill Road / NW 8 / Aug. 20, 1918.”  

“Under Whose/Which King?” 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated: “Edmund J. Sullivan 1918” in the upper left-hand corner of the image, showing Christ on the Cross opposite a hideous and gigantic Satan, while a demonic figure leads a uniformed Kaiser below. There are pencil annotations below the inked image. Sullivan wrote “Under Which God” on the verso in pencil.  

“Jugend,” 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated in the upper left-hand corner: “Edmund J. Sullivan 1918.” Titled in pencil on the verso. This is an image of a royal baby in his cradle, receiving a visitation of winged cherubs dropping roses on the baby, while a horned, diabolical figure lurks behind the bed. A death’s head is seen in the foreground under the baby’s cradle. A pencil annotation on the verso gives the date June 20 and “Rush Proof Tonight Thursday.”  

“Myself and Gott,” 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated in the lower left-hand corner, “Edmund J. Sullivan 1918.” An image showing a small Kaiser on his hands and knees, crawling towards the foot of the throne, on which sits the god-like gigantic Kaiser enthroned, holding the sceptre and orb. On the verso is an extensive pencil explanation: “The Cult of the First Person Singular & the Divine Right” / The Kaiser is never tired of talking, and he has two subjects which are perpetually cropping up Myself and God ‘always bracketed first.’ God, by the wisdom of the ages, made man in His Own Image. The Kaiser has reversed the process and made a God exactly like himself and fallen down and worshipped it; and called on the world to worship his Idol with him. Those who do not accept his god, he persecutes. He has cut Christ and the Holy Ghost out of the Trinity he professes he substituted himself of the God of the Universe which he proposes eventually to abolish but patronizes what little he has left. He is indeed the Great I Am — a singular first person — whom he himself quite believe in.” This is followed by an annotation in ink: “Myself and Gott / the Kaiser is talking of ‘myself and God,’ always bracketed first. God, we are told, made man in his own image and likeness. The Kaiser reversed the process, and built up a God exactly like himself, and fell down and worshipped, calling upon all others  to worship his Idol with him.” The pencil date “July 11” also appears on the verso. 

“Paying the Piper,” 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated in the lower left-hand corner, “Edmund J. Sullivan 1917.” With this conversational exchange as a legend in ink below the image: “Now Play Deutschland über Alles. Paddy: No, I’ll not take your money, and I won’t play your tune.” The image shows a threadbare man with bagpipes replying to a uniformed Kaiser, hand outstretched in greeting, by throwing away the money just given to him by the Kaiser. A pencil annotation on the verso says, “National Hero,” with editorial measurements and “rush job.”   

Untitled. 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated in the lower right-hand corner, “Edmund J. Sullivan 1918.” The image is of the Kaiser in full ceremonial military dress shackled to a horned demon with his face and human hands dripping with blood.  

Untitled. 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated in the lower right-hand corner, “Edmund J. Sullivan 1918.” An image showing Empress Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, the last German Empress and Queen of Prussia, showing Crown Prince Wilhelm a place in a book open on his lap, probably a reminder of his position in the Hohenzollern family succession after the Kaiser. The wall behind the two royals holds two labeled portraits of Bismarck and Frederick the Great. To the crown prince’s right is a crouching hideous creature with a human face. At Crown Prince Wilhelm’s feet under a table are two more caricatures with human faces. Annotations on the verso indicate this was a rush order cartoon with a publication deadline of January 27.  

Untitled.  26.5 cm x 18.5 cm, signed and dated in the lower right-hand corner, “Edmund J. Sullivan 1918.”  An image showing a Hohenzollern boy prince standing on a chair in front of a table holding the German Imperial State Crown. This may be Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (1906 – 1940). Above the boy’s head are two winged cherubs holding a regimental fur hat decorated with the death’s head insignia. The table holding the crown is supported by carved figures with demonic faces. Rose buds float down from above. 

Untitled and unsigned. 26.5 cm x 18.5 cm. Two German soldiers are carrying battle standards while goose-stepping through ankle-deep blood, which drips from their boots. Some pencil annotations are on one of the battle standards. This drawing is believed to be unfinished. 

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