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Yet more Rubaiyat-related cartoons

November 26, 2017

In response to Joe Howard’s original post *, Bob Forrest has sent in images of two more cartoons that make satirical use of extracts from FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.  Bob has also provided brief comments on the origins of the cartoons.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Concession Cartoon

 In 1901 the English-born millionaire William Knox D’Arcy negotiated a concession to prospect for oil over a large part of Iran for a period of 60 years, in return for which large payments would be made into the Royal Treasury. But by 1931, a glut of oil on the world market, plus the effects of the Depression, led to substantial reductions in payments to Iran by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) under the D’Arcy concession. As a result, in November 1932 the then Iranian monarch Reza Shah threatened to cancel the concession (hence this cartoon from Punch in December 1932.) This resulted in the case going before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Some Iranian brinkmanship seems to have been involved here, for in April 1933 the Shah did a U-turn, and a new agreement was signed, with royal assent, in May 1933.

In the cartoon the Shah is represented as Reza Khayyam, with an oil can at his feet and a petrol pump behind his head, tearing up the D’Arcy Concession. The lines beneath are a parody of the last two lines of verse 12 of the first edition of The Rubaiyat:

Ah, take the Cash in hand and waive the Rest;
Oh the brave Music of a distant drum.

Exploded Reputations VIII:

 This was one of a series of cartoons on the theme of “Exploded Reputations” by George Morrow, published in Punch on January 13th 1909. It takes an alternative look at the famous verse 11 of FitzGerald’s first edition:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Here, Paradise is anything but Paradise, and Omar’s Beloved is depicted as a jug-swigging termagant

Other cartoons in the series depicted, for example, Alfred the Great as “Alfred the Great Pastry Cook,” selling “Cakes baked under Royal Supervision”; and Leander about to swim the Hellespont after a hot drink, wearing a buoyancy ring, and with a boat ready to hook him out of the water if he gets into trouble.

* See Joe’s original post on, plus a follow up from Jos Coumans on

Bob Forrest also draws attention to a cartoon by Gilbert James in the style of his well known Rubaiyat illustrations.  More details of this will come in a further post.


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 27, 2017 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the information, Bob. This is turning out to be an interesting topic. On your first picture, do you know anything about the artist, and when and where it was published?

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