The History of Caricature

The History of Caricature 2017-03-22T20:21:48+00:00

The History of Caricature

Regaliana is a purveyor of specialist and distinctive handcrafted caricatures and models (as well as mirrored works of art and Fresco paintings to both private and commercial clients. This section looks at the history of caricature, and the most famous caricatures and caricature artists from history.

In art, a caricature is an image which shows the features of the subject in an exaggerated, often simplified way, where the point is to make an impression of the original which was more striking than a portrait. The British caricaturist Ted Harrison has said that caricaturists can either mock or wound the subject with an effective caricature, with the objective being one of humour or to make a serious social or political point.

Leonardo da Vinci was a noted early caricaturist and indeed, many early caricatures were enjoyed in the aristocratic circles of France and Italy, where they could be passed about for mutual enjoyment.

Mary Darly’s A Book of Caricaturas (c. 1762), was the first book on caricature drawing to be published in England, whilst the first known North American caricatures were drawn in 1759 during the battle for Quebec by Brigadier General George Townshend. His caricatures of General Wolfe as “Deformed and crass and hideous” were drawn to amuse fellow officers.[3]

Two other famous British practitioners of the art were Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and James Gillray (1757–1815). Rowlandson was mainly inspired by the public at large, whilst Gillray was more concerned with the satire, often quite viscious, of political life.

The Best and most famous Caricaturists

Any list of the best or most famous caricaturists is likely to be a bit subjective, like most things, but here is a list that covers 6 of the most well known caricature artists.

  • George Cruikshank (1792–1878, British) was well known for creating caricatures that satirised and attacked the royal family and leading politicians. He also created create social caricatures of life in Britain for popular publications such as The Comic Almanack (1835–1853) and Omnibus (1842), whilst his New Union Club of 1819 is considered of interest because of its context of slavery. He was also an illustrator for Charles Dickens amongst many others.
  • Some consider Honoré Daumier (1808–1879, French) to be the father of caricature. He was also prolific, creating over 4,000 lithographs, most of them caricatures on political, social, and everyday themes.
  • Sir Max Beerbohm (1872–1956, British), mainly created caricatures of the famous men of his own time, using a style of single-figure caricatures in formalised groupings that was established by 1896 and flourished until about 1930. His caricatures are published in Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen (1896), The Poets’ Corner (1904), and Rossetti and His Circle(1922), and were also were exhibited regularly in London at the Carfax Gallery (1901–18) and Leicester Galleries (1911–57).
  • Alex Gard (1900–1948, Russian) created more than 700 caricatures that were displayed on the walls of Sardi’s Restaurant in New York City, mainly of show business celebrities. The images are now part of the Billy Rose Theatre Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
  • Al Hirschfeld (1903–2003, American) was best known for his simple black and white caricature drawings of celebrities (mainly from Broadway) and for the use of flowing contour lines. He went on to caricature many other non-Broadway celebrities, including politicians, musicians, singers television stars, including some from the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are permanent collections of his work on display at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in New York.
  • Mort Drucker (1929 -American) is most well known for his work with the comic book Mad. He joined Mad in 1957, combining a comic strip style with caricature likenesses of film actors, whilst also contributed caricature style covers for Time Magazine. His work has been recognised by the the National Cartoonists Society, who awarded him with their Special Features Award for 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988, and their Reuben Award for 1987.

Our On-line catalogues for Caricatures

Our online catalogues for caricatures (as well as mirrors, wall art and Fresco art and paintings) feature an extensive choice of “made-to-order” designs, in a range of sizes and prices. We also offer a bespoke service across all products, ranging from the slightest modification of an existing catalogue design, through to bringing individual Client ideas to life via fully customized design commissions of any scale. 

Whether from the Private or the Commercial Sector our objective is to fulfil the exact requirements of our Clients, therefore, if you are unable to find exactly what you are looking for or require further information please contact us.