Lionel Coventry & His Caricatures

By Neil Smith, SANFL History Centre

Lionel Coventry was an artistic phenomenon.  He became a household word in South Australia through his distinctive portrait caricatures of people from all walks of life.

Back in 1928, when he was working as a young journalist, his editor took a punt and sent the self-taught artist to the Adelaide Oval to produce sketches of the visiting English cricket team. They ended up on the front page of a London newspaper. The die was cast.  His distinctive caricatures regularly appeared in newspapers and journals for half a century.

By the time Lionel packed away the pencils in the 1970s, it is said he portrayed more than 30,000 individuals. His football sketches were particularly prominent in the weekend press in South Australia.

As part of a celebration of the 145th anniversary of the South Australian National Football League, the SANFL History Centre is delighted to join with the National Wine Centre and the University of Adelaide for this exhibition that gives us a sense of the sheer range of personalities he portrayed.

These caricatures fall into three categories – prominent university graduates, wine industry figures… and, of course, footy legends.

The Coventry exhibition is open daily at the National Wine Centre, corner of Botanic and Hackney roads, Adelaide, from 10am to 5pm.

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