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They're memorable. They stick in the mind's eye. Proverbial - or as we now say, iconic. They're always likely to be disputable. Well-known quotations are never well-known to everyone. Of course, names alone are precisely not a test for the proverbial picture. Visual recognition is the only test. With the proverbial, questions of medium, of genre, of cultural status, don't signify.

And cartoons themselves, like some by James Gillray or by David Low, can pass the cartoon test. When it comes to gaining a place in the great, half-conscious, public, mental bank of pictures, it's image alone that counts. But there's another, related class of picture - the picture that looks as though it ought to be proverbial, the picture that has a proverbial quality to it, without apparently having achieved a proverbial standing.

The Travelling Companion Part

Take a recent instance: could a cartoonist base a drawing on Paula Rego's painting The Policeman's Daughter, and expect readers to get the reference? Probably not. Yet Rego's image of a young girl with her arm thrust right down inside a jack-boot, vigorously polishing it with the other hand, seems a perfect candidate. It's a simple, encapsulating visual metaphor for a complicated psycho-sexual power relationship, which could easily be given a topical political twist. The image itself has the boldness and economy that you find in a great cartoon.

It is strongly proverbial. But it hasn't yet entered the dictionary of visual quotations. Two Victorian young women, in capacious travelling costumes, are on a train to the south of France.

The Travelling Companions

One reads. One sleeps. But seated opposite each other, their extravagant forms are almost mirror images, which echo the symmetrical architecture of the carriage. Outside, the bright coast stretches away. Inside, the space is extremely close. A scene of modern life is given the clarity of an icon.

The painting is semi-famous, and probably better known than its artist. It has qualities that would recommend it to a cartoonist. Its shapes, its light and shade, are sharp and simple. Its symmetrical design is very striking. It is rich in metaphorical possibilities. A pair of figures, almost identical, barricaded in their clothes, cramped and crushed together, while making a journey - it's an image that might embody all kinds of awkward alliance, with an extra incongruity joke in equating seasoned politicos with nice young ladies.

And yet - there's something about the painting that makes it seem familiar, even when it isn't. A person could see The Travelling Companions for the first time, and feel that somehow they knew it already. It has a strange recognisability. The reason is nothing mysterious, nothing to do with the fundamental archetypes of the human mind.

It's because Egg's picture reminds us subliminally of something we really do know well. It looks like a scene from Alice. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are extraordinary books for many reasons, not least because almost every bit of them has become proverbial. There's hardly a character or an episode that isn't a by-word.

This is partly thanks to a cartoonist. It's largely through the illustrations of Sir John Tenniel that the world of Alice sticks so strongly in our minds. And it echoes throughout the Egg. The echoes go like this. There's the basic interest in young ladies, and their inner lives of course Alice is much younger. One of the girls is sleeping, dreaming. They look like identical twins: shades of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They are voluminous females, like the Duchess. And the girls are tightly confined within a chamber, like Alice when she drinks from the magic bottle and grows too big for the room she's in.

These echoes aren't direct, and they certainly aren't allusions, conscious or unconscious. The first Alice book appeared in , three years after The Travelling Companions. You could call it chance, or you could call it the mid-Victorian mindset. There may well be a bit of influence going the other way. Tenniel's image of a railway carriage closely recalls Egg's - the design and viewpoint are identical.

But however the echoes arise, there are enough of them for the dream world of Alice to cast its spell, and its fame, over Egg's social realism. A strong image in itself, The Travelling Companions is empowered by borrowed memorability.

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Augustus Leopold Egg enjoyed one of the most ridiculous names in the history of art. He aspired to be a Hogarthian painter - moralising, humorous, popular. He was also part of the literary circle of Dickens and Wilkie Collins. He admired the younger Pre-Raphaelites.

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He engaged in charity work and amateur theatricals. He travelled to southern Europe for his poor health. His most famous work is in Tate Britain, Past and Present, a narrative triptych about adultery and its tragic consequences. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?

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Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Long reads. Lib Dems. US Politics. Theresa May. The Third Doctor , more active and physical than his predecessors, made the role of the "action hero" male companion redundant. The intellectual Shaw was replaced by Jo Grant in the series, and as the programme returned to occasional adventures in outer space, the format shifted once more: while UNIT continued to provide a regular "home base" for Earth-bound stories, in stories on other planets, the Doctor and Jo became a two-person team with a close, personal bond.

This pattern, the Doctor with a single female companion, became a template from which subsequent episodes of Doctor Who rarely diverged. The character of Harry Sullivan was created by the production team when it was expected that the Fourth Doctor would be played by an older actor who would have trouble with the activity expressed by his predecessor. The role went to year-old Tom Baker , and the part of Harry, no longer required for the action role, was reduced.

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In the final series for the Fourth Doctor, he acquired three companions Adric , Tegan , and Nyssa , and this situation continued under the Fifth Doctor for a while. Adric was written out by the unusual method within the series of being "killed off". By the time of the Sixth Doctor, a single companion had become standard again. Although the term "companion" is designated to specific characters by the show's producers and appears in the BBC's promotional material and off-screen fictional terminology, there is no formal definition that constitutes such a designation.

The definition of who is and is not a companion becomes less clear in the newer series. The British press referred to Martha as the "first ethnic minority companion in the year television history of Doctor Who " [5] and the "first black assistant", [6] despite the presence of Mickey Smith in the previous series—including several episodes in which he travelled in the TARDIS with the Doctor. Similarly, some characters who appear to qualify as companions are never awarded the title, as in the case of Canton Delaware, who assisted the Doctor for several weeks, traveled in the TARDIS, and was even invited to witness the Eleventh Doctor's supposed death.