Artur (Arthur) Barbosa – ‘Surprise Surprise’


1 in stock

Pencil, watercolour, and gouache, highlighted with white and gum arabic on paper. This picture is an unpublished design for the book; “The Memoirs of Coral Pearl, the erotic reminiscences of a flamboyant 19th-century courtesan,” pub; Granada 1983. We are currently holding two other related watercolours by the artist.

Image: 12 1/8 x 12 1/8 in. (31 x 31 cm.)
Mount: 17 7/8 x 17 5/8 in. (45.5 x 44.8 cm.)

Illustrated on page 340 in the book “Barbosa – The Man Who Drew Flashman” by Lawrence Blackmore. Pub; The Book Palace Ltd, 2017.


This illustration can be confidently traced to text in the Blatchford version of ‘The Memoirs of Cora Pearl’ where Pearl enters a room and is unexpectedly surprised to see a naked man with a short moustache standing in a bathtub. Chapter nine, page 167.

Lawrence Blackmore points out that the first publication in 1886 of ‘Mèmoires de Cora Pearl’ was greatly anticipated but proved to be a disappointment. The names of the key players were only thinly disguised and the accounts of her sexual exploits and frivolities only tamely recounted. It quickly went out of print and disappeared. In 1983 Granada published ‘The Memoirs of Cora Pearl’ edited by William Blatchford. Barbosa designed the dust jacket. Blatchford claimed to have located a later volume of Cora Pearl’s memoirs, published in 1890 after her death that was decidedly more frank and sexually explicit than its predecessor. These ‘discovered’ memoirs proved to be a hoax, the real author being Derek Parker, a former Chairman of the Society of Authors and well known for his books on astrology, co-authored with his wife.


Barbosa, Artur Ernesto Teixeira (1908-1995)

Artur Barbosa was born in Liverpool, the son of the Portuguese vice-consul and a half-French mother. He studied at Liverpool School of Art and the Central School of Art in London. Whilst still a student he produced illustrations for Everybody’s Weekly and The Radio Times. He also designed for the stage and produced drawings for fashion magazines and leading advertising agencies. Barbosa was at school with the actor Rex Harrison, the friendship endured into adulthood when Harrison commissioned Barbosa to design the interiors of his villa in Portofino, this in turn led to a commission to refurbish Elizabeth Taylor’s yacht, the Kalizma; Cecil Beaton and Laurence Olivier were also among his friends. His prolific book illustration was the most constant and popular element throughout his long career and he was commissioned by authors such as C.S Forester, George MacDonald Fraser, Patrick O'Brian and Georgette Heyer. His stylised designs are immediately recognisable and have become a characteristic perception of the (extended!) Regency period (Hornblower and Flashman technically fall either side of the years 1810-20!)