Caricature of the banjo player Will Pettitt, from an album of caricatures by George Cooke. Dated 18 June 1904.
Height: 25 cm, Width: 18 cm
This caricature is of the banjo player Will Pettitt, performing at The Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week commencing 11 June 1904. He was on the bill of a presentation of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', a production advertised as featuring a 'Full Chorus of Real Negroes and Freed Slaves'. He was billed as 'Will Pettitt, Banjoist'. Other perfomers billed separately were Sylvia Stella 'Plantation Songstress and Dancer'; Inky Jones 'Eccentric Dancer'; William H. Nott 'the Celebrated Coloured Tenor'; Shorty May 'Acrobatic Dancer' and Dinah Washington 'Octoroon Ballad Vocalist'. The caricature comes from the first of several albums compiled by the graphic artist George Cooke when he was based at the Grand Theatre Hanley, featuring performers working in the music hall in the early 20th century. The album is dated 1903-4-5.
This caricature is of the banjo player Will Pettitt when he was performing on a tenor banjo at the Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week of 11 June 1904. It is one of the many superb caricatures of Edwardian music hall performers that were drawn by the artist George Cooke when he was based at the Grand Theatre. He compiled them in a series of albums. Pettitt was on the bill as an item in the musical show Uncle Tom’s Cabin. His banjo was probably made in America.
The craze for banjo playing came to Great Britain from the USA in the mid-1880s. At this time thousands of pieces of music for the banjo were published, from marches and dances to arrangements of operatic music. In early 19th-century America the banjo was primarily associated with minstrel groups. By about 1900 it was also appreciated as a versatile solo instrument that could sustain an item on a music hall or variety bill, played by elegantly dressed performers such as Pettitt.