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About antique Prints of Caricatures & Cartoons
Caricature – a representation or description which, though bearing a resemblance to the original, is so exaggerated as to be ludicrous.
The use of caricature for giving point to satire has prevailed from a very early period. Caricatures have been used since the times of the Greeks and the Romans; they flourished during the middle ages and have been used for party and political purposes ever since. The first known North American caricatures were drawn in 1759 during the battle for Quebec, by Brig. General George Townshend to amuse fellow officers. Caricatures were very successful among the aristocratic circles of France and Italy, where such portraits could be shared for mutual amusement. The turbulent years between 1830 and 1852 in French politics were a golden age for French political caricature. Caricature was wielded as a political weapon, so much so that in 1835 the French politician Adolphe Thiers claimed that ‘nothing was more dangerous’ than graphic satire.
Among the most eminent of the British caricature artists are William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson, Cruickshank, James Gillray, John Leech and Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz).
In 1841 Punch, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire, was established by Henry Mayhew. Historically it was most influential in the 1840s and 1850s and its early artists whose work was featured in the magazine included John Tenniel and Richard Doyle (who designed the front cover). Some fine examples of their work can be seen above.
In Germany, The Munchener Bilderbogen, was published by Braun and Schneider, every fortnight from 1848 with contributions from Wilhelm Busch. Alexander Moszkowski founded his own satirical magazine, Lustigen Blätter, which later contained a mixture of overt propaganda satirizing enemy countries as well as relatively apolitical jokes and cartoons.