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The Golden Age of Political Cartoons

It wasn't really until the 1700s that caricature truly blossomed as a form of political criticism. In the late 1750s, a man named Thomas Townshend began using the techniques employed by earlier engravers and applying them towards a political model. This gave Thompson's cartoons a much greater feeling of propaganda than previous artistic critiques of the time. The intense political climate of the period, and often accusatory nature of most political cartoons forced many artists to use pseudonyms in order to avoid accusations of libel. Other artists took it a step farther, and left their cartoons completely unsigned, foregoing any credit they may have received. Political higher-ups were notoriously touchy about their reputations and were not afraid to make examples of offenders. Puck was the first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoons, caricatures and political satire of the issues of the day. It was published from 1871 until 1918.
Tough on Turkey / Gillam.
1,631 Media in collectionpage 1 of 17

Sublime and beautiful reflections on the French revolution, or the man in the moon at large

Print shows Edmund Burke sitting at a desk on a crescent moon, holding a quill pen, an open "pamphlet" and an inkwell are on the desk, broken chains hang from his wrists; a scene on the front of the desk, label... more

The OP spectacles / Cruikshank del.

Satire showing head of Clifford with two circles representing huge spectacles, "Old house old prices & no private boxes" and "Old house old prices & no pigeon holes," over his eyes. Each circle contains a symme... more

The Female frizzler

British cartoon showing woman, seated on huge hairdo of another woman, as she works on the hairdo.

A vieu of Plymouth

Print shows Lord Amherst, Lieutenant General of the Ordnance, wearing military uniform, looking into a peepshow for a view of the progress of the war in America. As Jeffery looks, the showman says, "There you s... more

The budget

Print shows three headless men riding on the back of a two-headed beast which says, "I will support my friends, I have head enough for them all"; with one arm it devours a paper labeled "20 millions more" and w... more

A petitioning, remonstrating, reforming, republican / R.S.

Cartoon shows a "Republican" squatting over an upturned crown, urinating into an upturned bishop's mitre. He supports himself with a staff on which is a liberty cap with the word "liberty" crossed out and "rebe... more

An high wind in St. Paul's Church yard

Print shows a street scene outside a print shop on a windy day as pedestrians struggle against the force of the wind.

The vision

Print shows a young man, possibly William Pitt, the younger, being visited by a ghost from the grave, possibly the elder William Pitt, who has come "to warn thee against thy impending fate - Beware of Prerogati... more

The fall of Phaeton

"The Prince of Wales falls headlong, but gracefully, from his high phaeton, and is about to land on Mrs. Fitzherbert, who lies face downwards on the ground, on hands and knees, her petticoats over her head, lea... more

France. Britain. Freedom. Slavery

"A design in two compartments. On the left the triumph of Necker in a land of 'Freedom', in the other that of Pitt in a land of 'Slavery"..." (Source: George)

The doctor indulged with his favorite scene

Cartoon shows cleric Dr. Richard Price, kneeling on a crown with a demon on his back, peering through a peep-hole into the royal bedroom at Versailles, watching ruffians destroy the Queen's bed and bedroom in s... more

The night mare

Cartoon shows a scantily clad woman asleep on a bed, a little man sitting on her chest pulling back her see-through covers, as one of her arms hangs to the floor near a chamber pot written on it... "Source of N... more

Frontispiece to Reflections on the French revolution

Print shows Edmund Burke on bended knee as though proposing to a vision which appears before him of Marie Antoinette, while a cherub touches his head with a firebrand emitting the sparks of romance.

Don Dismallo running the literary gantlet

Print shows Edmund Burke in fools dress receiving lashes on his bare back as he runs a gauntlet of his peers which also includes Justice holding a sword, and Liberty, with staff topped with a liberty cap, who h... more

Smelling out a rat; or the atheistical-revolutionist disturbed in his midnight "calculations"

Print shows Richard Price seated at a desk, he turns to look over his right shoulder at a vision of an enormous Edmund Burke, his spectacles, nose, and hands emerge from the haze, a crown in one hand and a cros... more

An escape a la Francois!

"A burlesque representation of the flight to Varennes; the royal family in a two-wheeled carriage drawn (left to right) by four galloping horses with two postilions..." (Source: George)

A voluptuary under the horrors of digestion / Js. Gy. design et fecit.

Caricature of George IV as the Prince of Wales, languid with repletion, leaning back in an arm-chair, at a table covered with remains of a meal, holding a fork to his mouth. His waistcoat is held together by a ... more

The abolition of the slave trade Or the inhumanity of dealers in human flesh exemplified in Captn. Kimber's treatment of a young Negro girl of 15 for her virjen (sic) modesty.

Print shows sailor on a slave ship suspending an African girl by her ankle from a rope over a pulley. Captain John Kimber stands on the left with a whip in his hand.

The progress of passion / JN [Nixon] 1792 ; etched by Cruikshanks.

Print shows a sequence of scenes arranged in two rows starting, in upper left, with King George III dismissing Edward Thurlow and followed by a chain of events resulting from Thurlow's anger that affect family ... more

The gradual abolition off the slave trade or leaving of sugar by degrees

Print shows George III sitting at a table with the Queen and two of his daughters, and the Queen's Keeper of the Robes, Juliana Elizabeth Schwellenbergen holding a bottle of "Brandy", discussing the use of suga... more

The martydom of Louis XVI, King of France - I forgive my enemies, I die innocent!!! / I. Cruikshank int.

Print shows Louis XVI standing, with a dramatic pose, next to a guillotine. Includes description of the mechanics of the guillotine.

The heroic Charlotte la Cordé, upon her trial,... / Js. Gy., desn. et fect.

"The interior of the Revolutionary Tribunal crowded with figures. Charlotte Corday (right) stands at the bar, a raised circular stone platform, her wrists linked by a chain, addressing her judges (left), who li... more

French happiness - English misery / IC.

Print shows, on the left, four ragged and starving sansculottes fighting over a frog, a cat has dropped dead at their feet, and scenes of death in the background; on the right, a scene in an English tavern with... more

The near in blood, the nearer bloody

Print shows the Duke of Orleans dressed as a ragged sansculotte, holding an axe over the head of Louis XVI which rests on a chopping block, while Marie Antoinette pleads for him to show a "touch of pity."

The faith of treaties exemplified or John Bull's last effort to oblige his false friends / S.W.F.

A satire on the diplomatic situation in 1794, showing French soldiers shooting at raging bull, and saying "Vive la republic, Blood & plunder, no quarter to John Bull!" To the bull's back is strapped a bundle in... more

The great South Sea caterpillar, transform'd into a Bath butterfly / Js.G. desn. et fect.

Cartoon shows the metamorphosis of Sir Joseph Banks from a caterpillar to a butterfly upon his investiture with the Order of the Bath as a result of his South Sea expedition. Draped with the ribbon, and wearing... more

The prophet of the Hebrews, the prince of peace conducting the Jews to the Promis'd-Land / Js Gy, des. et fec.

Print showing Richard Brothers holding a Bible turned to Book of Revelations, carrying on his back a "Bundle of the Elect" containing Charles James Fox, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Charles Stanhope, and Lord La... more

Sir Thomas Bond Bart

Print showing Sir Thomas Bond, full-length portrait, right profile, carrying an umbrella under right arm.

Lady Godina's rout; - or - Peeping-Tom spying out Pope-Joan / Js. Gy. d: et f:

A fashionable crowd playing cards at two tables. In the foreground, four people playing the game Pope-Joan. One of the women is wearing a loose fitting semi-transparent dress with her breasts exposed. Behind he... more

High-change in Bond Street, - ou- la Politesse du Grande Monde / Js. Gy d: et fect.

Fashionably dressed pedestrians on Bond Street. In the foreground, five men crowd a woman and girl off the sidewalk as they leer at them. The women, seen from the back, are oddly dressed. In the background, thr... more

Philanthropic Consolations, after the loss of the Slave-Bill

William Wilberforce and Samuel Horsley, Bishop of Rochester, cavort with two black women in a well-furnished room. Wilberforce and a woman, wearing a print dress with her breasts exposed, sit on a couch smoking... more

The Orangerie; - or - the Dutch Cupid reposing after the fatigues of Planting / Js. Gy. inv: et fect.

William V, Prince of Orange, as a fat, naked Cupid, reclining on a platform of grass and flowers and leaning on a bag of money marked 24,000,000 ducats. In the foreground are a number of orange plants with each... more

End of the Irish Invasion : - or - the Destruction of the French Armada / Js. Gillray, inv. et f.

French warships, labeled Le Révolutionaire, L'Egalité and The Revolutionary Jolly Boat, being tossed about during a storm blown up by Pitt, Dundas, Grenville and Windham, whose heads appear from the clouds. Cha... more

Billy's Raree-Show or John Bull en lighten'd

"Pitt, as a peep-show man, stands by his box, which is supported on trestles..." (Source: George)

Buonaparte at Rome giving audience in state / I.Ck.

Cartoon shows Napoleon, wearing tattered clothing, seated on a low throne; kneeling before him is a pope placing the keys of St. Peter at his feet as he kicks the crown off the popes head, saying "I say remembe... more

Cries of London / Rd. Newn. del. et. fecit.

Four town criers peddling "shillelees, ballads, Bedfordshire tails, and Scotch whiskey."

The nuptial-bower; - with the evil-one, peeping at the charms of Eden, from Milton / Js. Gy. inv. & fect.

Cartoon shows William Pitt escorting Eleanor Eden to a vine-shaded bower within which are three large sacks with the British pound symbol on them, possibly representing Pitt's debt. Bunches of grapes, crowns, a... more

Hero's recruiting at Kelsey's; - or- Guard-Day at St. James's / Js. Gy. ad vivam fect.

Two officers, on a tall, lanky, elderly man and the other a child, sit facing each other eating sweets at a confectioner's. A third officer, fat and knock-kneed, stands guard in the doorway. The windows of the ... more

[Sister Jane]

"A woman (right) stands over a kneeling man brandishing a whip. He says: "Have mercy in God's name think oh think of my Poor Parents What have I Done - " She answers: "No you Dog Ill invent Lies to Get you Lock... more

Cries of London / Rd. Newn. del. et. fecit.

Four town criers announcing "Rare news! bloody news! Ireland is sunk in the bog of Allen! The ... French Army is totally destroyed ..." ; "Any-bad-schillings!" ; "Bill o' the play, your honour" ; "Rare Norfolk ... more

Cries of London / Rd. Newn. del. et sculp.

Four town criers peddling "lily white sand," "Scotch crowdy," "roses and lilies," and the last crier announcing the theft of "five hundred guineas."

Le Boureau / Js. Gy. d. & ft.

Cartoon shows George Tierney dressed as an executioner standing next to a guillotine with a crowd of liberty-capped citizens in the background.

New morality; or The promis'd installment of the high-priest of the Theophilanthropes, with the homage of Leviathan and his suite / Js. Gillray, inv. & fect.

Print shows French politician and Theophilanthropist Louis Marie la Révellière-Lépaux standing on a three-legged stool perched upon a stone dais reading Religion de la N[ature] to surrounding caricatures of peo... more

Treason!!! / designed & etch'd by Rd. Newton.

A stout, smiling John Bull directs a blast from his rear-end toward a poster of King George III tacked to a wall. The image of the king looks suprised. On the left, the head of William Pitt exclaims, "That is T... more

Erin go bray

Print shows "an Irish field officer on his charger," or an Irishman holding a lance, sitting on a donkey which is braying "O how I long for a union with the English Bull, ay by my soul or the English Cow, or th... more

"Praetor-Urbanus;" - Inauguration of the Coptic Mayor of Cairo, preceded by the Procureur de la Commune / Etched by Js. Gillray.

An obese, Copt, holding a mace or staff, rides an ass which, though led processionally by a Copt, proceeds on account of the bayonet with which a grinning French soldier stabs its hind quarters.

A return from a march or a false alarm in a country village!! / Woodward del ; Cruikshanks sp.

Print shows a group of British citizens mustered in response to an alarm that the French were attacking England which proved to be false; they complain of soiled, torn, or lost clothing, and one reads a list of... more

General Swallow-all-o feasting on a French fricassee!!

Print shows a gigantic Russian soldier, possibly a gross caricature of Field Marshal Aleksandr Vasilʹevich Suvorov, eating the severed head of a French soldier, another oversized man, a chef, holds a platter co... more

The Irish bull broke loose

Print shows the "Irish Bull" tossing William Pitt into the air and about to do the same to Lord Dundas who runs to the left; on the far right, those opposed to Pitt's "Union Bill" cheer on the bull, "Go it my Boy."

The humours of Belvoir Castle, or the morning after / Woodward del. ; etch'd by Cruikshank.

Print shows a number of encounters, in two panels, between men and women either off to bed or awakened to the horrors of the night before: the first, an old man on the arm of an old woman, says, "Och! Long life... more

That accounts for it / I.C.

Print shows a number of men and women each with a particular problem that seems to be troubling them, they contrive a solution which leads to the remark, "that accounts for it."

Member of the riding house at Paris, delivering an harangue from the shoulders of a French citizen

Print shows a member of the new French aristocracy wearing a Phrygian or Liberty cap with circular emblem (Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité) riding on the back of a French citizen; he implores, "Messrs. of the me... more

An Irish union / IC.

Print shows William Pitt joining the hands of "Paddy," an Irish farmer, and John Bull, neither of whom seem anxious for the union, while Lord Dundas, on the left, reading from a "History of Scotland" says, "dep... more

Mistaken abilities / Woodward del.

Print shows several individuals, each believing they are better suited to a particular occupation other than the one they are currently engaged in, such as a farmer that wants to be a doctor or an attorney that... more

Villagers clearing out rubbish!!! / engrav'd by Hixon.

Print shows three villagers transporting a parson, a doctor, and a lawyer to another parish to cries of "Huzza" from other villagers.

John Bull fighting the French single handed / P.F.L.B. fecit.

Print shows John Bull rapping a French soldier on the head with a cudgel, stomping on a French officer with his right foot, and using his left foot to kick the French nobility out of England and back to France ... more

The Farmers toast

British cartoon showing six fat farmers eating and drinking at a table. The farmers are 'monopolists', accused of holding corn in hopes of a still higher price.

A Cognocenti contemplating ye Beauties of ye Antique / Js. Gillray--invt--& fect.

An elderly Sir William Hamilton inspecting his antiquities, all of which refer to his wife, Lady Emma Hamilton and her lover, Lord Horatio Nelson. In the background hang four pictures on the wall: "Cleopatra", ... more

John Bull in Paris; or, English guineas for French pleasure!

Print shows John Bull standing between two French women offering them a bag of guineas.

British vessels. Described for the use of country gentlemen

British cartoon showing seven women, with different shapes and different types of clothing described as ships.

Advantages of wearing muslin dresses! / Js. Gillray,inv: & ft.

A fat lady, sitting with a man and woman at a tea table, reacts in horror as a hot poker from the fire falls on her dress and sets it on fire. The man sits helplessly while the second woman upsets the table in ... more

The caricaturist's apology / Giles Grinagain in.et f.

Large man holding a club and caricature of himself, threatens a kneeling caricaturist.

Bambridge on trial for murder by a committee of the House of Commons / engraved by T. Cook from an original painting by Wm. Hogarth in the possession of Mr. Ray.

Print shows several members of the House of Commons, including James Oglethorpe and Archibald Grant, gathered in a room at the Fleet Prison for an investigation of Thomas Bambridge, warden of the prison, for th... more

General Monkey and General Wolfe!!

Print shows Napoleon I, wearing a large hat, carrying a long sword, and having a body where his shoulders rest on his waist, cowering before the large ogre-like figure of John Bull.

The washing-tub expedition

Print shows Napoleon I wearing an oversized hat and holding a large sword leading a French fleet of washing tubs filled with French soldiers in an invasion of England.

The rival gardeners

King George III of England and Napoleon I tend to their respective plants on opposite sides of a stream labeled "The Channel." A cudgel marked "British Oak" floats down it. Napoleon bends over his drooping po... more

To his royal highness Fredrick Duke of York, this plate of Satan holding th prepondrence of power; or, Bounaparte's threat, is most humbly inscribed, by E. Sanders

Print shows Satan holding a balance to which, on one end is attached a hot-air balloon with a bishop, possibly the Duke of York, and another man standing on top, its lightness has skewed the balance to end over... more

St. James's volunteers firing at a target at Kilburn Wells

Print shows British soldiers shooting at a target with Napoleon's picture on it; he wears an oversized hat and carries a large sword.

Pharoah's fat kine - pharoah's lean kine / IC.

Print shows, on the left, in England, two corpulent, jovial men and an equally rotund woman providing them with drink, possibly sherry, and on the right, in France, two listless, thin, bony women sitting on sof... more

Consular coachmanship!!

Print shows Josephine standing in a carriage on the left which is drawn by four "unruly" horses, two are labeled "A Jacobin" and "A Royalist"; Napoleon, having been tossed onto the back of a bull, probably repr... more

A return from an invasion, or, Napoleon at a nonplus / JN.

Print shows Napoleon I coming ashore at Calais, France, defeated at every turn, without men and ships, to face the ridicule of fisherwomen, the governor, a French soldier, and an English sailor who says, "Take ... more

The first Kiss this Ten Years! - or - the meeting of Britannia & Citizen François

A tall, thin, French officer kissing a fat, richly dressed, seated Britannia. His hat and sword lay on the carpet. Britannia's shield and trident rest on the wall behind her chair. Above them are portraits of G... more

Charming-well again

The convalescent sits full face behind a small dinner-table. He holds up a glass of wine with a smile of satisfaction, and is about to carve a bird. He wears his nightcap. Behind his chair stands a stout footma... more

Consular games - the game of brag - the game of hazard / Woodward del. ; etch'd by Roberts.

Print with two scenes, "Brag" shows Napoleon I wearing an oversized hat and holding a large sword exhorting his troops to follow him in an invasion of England; "Hazard" shows the French fleet destroyed and Napo... more

The ghost of a guinea! or the country banker's surprise!! / Woodward, delin.

Print shows a banker astonished by a guinea coin with King George III on it. The banker says, "Surely my eyes do not deceive me--it certainly must be a Guinea!--I declare I have not seen such a thing since I ha... more

National contrasts or Bulky and Boney / etch'd by Roberts.

Print shows, on the left, a plump, "bulky" Englishman smoking a pipe while seated at a table laden with food and drink, on his left a cornucopia overflows with coins, and under the table is a dog with collar la... more

Matrimonial harmonics

The couple torment each other in the breakfast room..." (Source: George)

Harmony before Matrimony / Js. Gillray, des. & Ft.

A young woman and a fashionably dressed young man singing a duet. The woman plays a harp while looking over her shoulder at the music book, "Duets de L'Amour", which the man holds. On the table between the two ... more

Comfort of a Bed of Roses

Charles Fox, in bed with his wife, having a nightmare. To the right, Napoleon jumps to the bed from a cannon with the words "Pour subjugeur le Monde" inscribed on the muzzle; behind him are seen pikes and a ban... more

Visiting the sick

Charles Fox sitting in an armchair, obviously ill. On one side of him is Mrs. Fitzherbert, dressed as an abbess and holding a rosary; on the other side is a bishop in robes and mitre. In front of Fox, the Princ... more

A Kick at the Broad Bottoms! i.e. - "Emancipation of All the Talents" / Js. Gillray, inv. & fec.

King George III, his face hidden by a pillar, grabs the pigtail of Lord Grenville, and holds his scepter as if ready to strike Grenville. Members of the government, including Howick, holding a torn copy of the ... more

National contrasts / Woodward delt. ; W.S. scpt.

Print shows a ragged member of Napoleon's army boasting about the success of "de grand Empereur" to a robust Englishman labeled "Rule Britannia" who blows a puff of smoke in the soldiers face.

Comedy in the country. Tragedy in London / Rowlandson, scul.

"Two designs on one plate. Above, two rows of burlesqued yokels (with two comely women, and an ugly old one), seated behind the orchestra and backed by a rough brick wall...Below, three members of the orchestr... more

News from Worthing. In a letter from a beast of burden to her brother Jack / [I. Cruikshank ?].

"A young woman sits a donkey which is in the sea, refusing to move; she flourishes her parasol ..." (Source: George)

A Spanish joke !!! / Cruikshank, del.

Print shows Spanish men and women tossing King Joseph I in the air as a French man complains about his ill treatment.

Boney bringing home the truth from Spain

Print shows Napoleon assuring his subjects, who have animal faces, that all is well in Spain; one animal/man wonders why Napoleon fails to mention his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, whom he installed on the Spanish throne.

Boney at Bayonne blowing a Spanish bubble

Print shows Napoleon convincing the Spanish royalty, who are enclosed in a bubble, of his friendship as he fires a cannonball at Madrid.

King Joe disposing of his Spanish crown !!!

Print shows King Joseph I attempting to auction off his crown.

Very slippy-weather / etch'd by Js. Gillray.

Cartoon shows an elderly man who has slipped and fallen on the sidewalk outside Humphrey's printing establishment at No. 27 St. James's Street, London. He is holding a thermometer which he manages keep upright,... more

A parody on Macbeth's soliloquy at Covent Garden Theatre

Kemble as Macbeth, in Highland dress, declaims before the footlights; holding out a coin in his left hand, he staggers back, left leg forward.

Is this a rattle which I see before me / Cruikshank.

John Philip Kemble, caricatured, plays the dagger scene in Macbeth. In front of him is magically suspended a large watchman's rattle, labelled "a word to the wise". Text refers to the personal attack made on th... more

The modern Circe or a sequel to the petticoat / E. Delaney del. ; Cruickshank scp.

Cartoon shows Mrs. Mary Anne Clarke, wearing the Duke of York's military cloak, extending it to cover a crowd of miniature soldiers, civilians and clergymen clustering around her with outstretched arms; Mr. Wad... more

True reform of Parliament,--i.e.--patriots lighting a revolutionary-bonfire in new Palace Yard / Js. Gillray, inv. & fect.

Print shows Sir Francis Burdett making a speech and waving a bonnet rouge shaped like a fool's cap as Horne Tooke lights on fire a pile of acts and charters, as well as a Bible, with a flaming baton labeled "Se... more

The set-too between Old Price and Spangle Jack the Shewman - fought with unabated vigour for nine rounds & yet undecided

A pugilistic encounter, over new theater prices, between John Philip Kemble, tall and muscular, and "Old Price," a much smaller and weaker opponent.

The strollers progress plte 1st. A peep at Black Jack's origin previous to his going to Douay [...] / Cruikshank, invt.

Scene in a poverty-stricken room, in which John Philip Kemble's father, Roger, as a barber, dresses a wig, while he (John) talks to his mother; Sarah, Stephen, Charles, and a younger sister are variously occupied.

The arch dutchess Maria Louisa going to take her NAP

Print shows the young Archduchess Maria Louisa, second wife of Napoleon, in a bed which is too short for her with Napoleon discussing the accommodations.

Mr. and Mrs. Bull reflecting on the taxes

Print shows a domestic scene with a man and a woman sitting at opposite ends of a table which is set for tea, ale, and port consumption; Mrs. Bull is complaining about Mr. Bull's tendency toward "guzzling," to ... more

The soldiers definition of madness / Cawse fecit.

Four frames showing how love leads soldiers to sadness which leads to drink which leads to madness.