Celebrated British Caricaturists - Part One

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This list includes both British born artists and those who were born elsewhere but did most of their most important work in the U.K. The selection is listed in chronological order by date of birth.

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

He was born in London and apprenticed to an engraver where he learned his trade. He became a painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist and has been credited with pioneering sequential art or the cartoon strip.

His output ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects". His most renowned works are no doubt “ The Harlot’s Progress and “The Rake’s Progress”.

Isaac Cruickshank ( 1756 - 1811)

Cruickshank was a Scottish painter and caricaturist who was born in Edinburgh. Cruikshank's first known publications were etchings of Edinburgh "types", from 1784.

His water colours were put on show, but in order to make a living it was discovered that it was more profitable to produce prints and caricatures. He was responsible in part for creating the figure of John Bull, the nationalistic representation of a solid British yeoman.

Isaac Cruikshank was a contemporary of James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson, and he was part of what has been called "the Golden Age of British Caricature.

Thomas Rowlandson ( 1756 - 1827)

Thomas Rowlandson was an English painter and caricaturist. He was born in London and after he finished school he was educated at the Royal Academy. He was thought of as a promising student and if he had sustained his early application he would have made his mark as an artist.

But he inherited ?7,000 from a French aunt and dived into the distractions of the town (he was known to sit at the gambling-table for 36 hours at a stretch).

He soon wasted his inheritance but the friendship and examples of James Gillray and Henry William Bunbury seem to have suggested caricature as a means of filling his stomach and purse.

He also created a collection of erotic prints and woodcuts, many of which would these days be thought of as pornographic .

James Gillray (1757 - 1815)

James Gillray was a British caricaturist and printmaker who gained immense fame for his etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810.

Some of his most well known caricatures were directed at the Royal Family and George III in particular. He is also responsible for almost certainly the most famous political cartoon of all time.

It was entitled “The Plum Pudding in Danger’ . It was printed in 1805 and shows Pitt and Napoleon carving up the plum pudding of Europe.

By 1811, madness, no doubt made worse by his excessive life-style, was overtaking him and he died in 1815.

George Cruickshank ( 1792 - 1878)

George Cruickshank was born in London, the son of the famous caricaturist Isaac Cruickshank and started his working career as apprentice to his father.

He later started out as a caricaturist in his own right and was even paid ?100 in return for a promise not to caricature George IV
In later life he switched to book illustrating and illustrated “Sketches by Boz” and “Oliver Twist” for Charles Dickens.

After developing palsy he died in 1878. Punch in his obituary said “There never was a purer, simpler, more straightforward or altogether more blameless man. His nature had something childlike in its transparency."

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