George Gale (1929-2003) was one of the best-known political cartoonists and most celebrated caricaturists of the late 20th century, his originals being eagerly collected by their subjects. Gale was born in 1929 in Fife and trained as a draughtsman before National Service in the Army. He moved to London in 1952 to study at St Martin's School of Art.
That same year he began work as a graphic artist at a studio in Putney, which produced catalogues for Harrods and other high-profile clients, and where one of his apprentice colleagues was the future James Bond, Pierce Brosnan. While there, Gale began to have cartoons published in newspapers and magazines including She and The London Evening Standard. In 1954 he returned to Scotland briefly, to be married in Edinburgh and returned south with his wife to settle in Richmond, Surrey.
A meeting in the 1960s with Dick Clements, Editor of Tribune, led to Gale's producing regular cartoons for the left-wing weekly, though he was never himself a socialist. When William Rees-Mogg, editor of The Times, saw these he invited Gale to draw political cartoons for the paper's new "Europa" supplement, co-published with a number of European newspapers.
Gale produced weekly cartoons for The Times for seven years (1973-80), notably marking Britain's entry into the EEC with his Bayeux Tapestry pastiche The Tapisserie de Bruxelles, which was widely reproduced. His work also appeared in the Economist, Financial Times, and other British and European newspapers and journals.
When Nicholas Garland left The Daily Telegraph in 1986 to join The Independent, Gale was telephoned by Max Hastings, then Editor of The Telegraph and invited to replace Nick as Editorial/Political Cartoonist. This he did, until Garland returned to the Telegraph in 1990. In the meantime Gale also became Editorial Cartoonist of the parliamentary weekly The House Magazine.
From 1989 until July 2003 Gale drew every cover for the magazine and produced caricatures of political figures for the "Profile" feature of MPs as well as many smaller drawings. In July 2002 he moved to Edinburgh, but continued to draw for The House Magazine.
Gale illustrated a number of books, including The Flying Hammer (1985) a book on auctioneering by his son, the art critic and military historian Iain Gale. He also designed the famous lobster logo for Wiltons Restaurant in St James's and illustrated its history, Wiltons 1742-1992 (1992), by his friend Quentin Letts. He also drew many caricatures of members of City livery companies, banks and other corporations.
Gale acknowledged his main influences as being the work of Gillray, Cruikshank, Low and Vicky (Victor Weisz). He drew mainly in pen and ink, gouache and crayon. Examples of his work are held in public collections including the University of Edinburgh and the Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricature at the University of Kent.
His many private collectors included Lady Thatcher, James Callaghan, Tony Benn, Enoch Powell, Betty Boothroyd and Jeffrey Archer, the actors Edward Woodward, Christopher Plummer and Peter Ustinov and the poet Sir John Betjeman all of whom became friends.
George Gale was tall, distinguished-looking and spoke with a slight Scottish accent, having a passing resemblance to Sean Connery, which led to his being asked for the actor's autograph on more than one occasion. A lover of classical music, good claret and fine whisky, he made friends easily and had few prejudices. Dedicated to his art, he continued to draw even when terminally ill: his last caricature was of his doctor.