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Type of Item
The Old People Mill
This 1852 single-sheet satirical print depicting “the old people mill” is part of a collection of 850 such broadsides printed in various Swedish cities and now preserved in the National Library of Sweden. These prints were often pasted inside the lids of chests in which people stored their belongings. The print on the left and the accompanying verses below are devoted to “the mill for old men," those on the right to “the mill for old women,” magical mills from which they return young and beautiful. In the era before ...
Braccelli’s Bizzarie di varie figure contains a suite of 50 etchings that celebrate the human figure in geometric forms. Squares, triangles, circles, and parallelograms take the place of muscle, bone, and tissue, defining the body in a new visual vocabulary. Braccelli’s designs are unique in the history of book illustration. They represent a high point in the Mannerist style of etching that flourished in the 17th century. Mannerism incorporated the techniques of the Renaissance but rejected the classical imagery and harmonious style that is the hallmark of much ...
To the Woods!
This political cartoon by Clifford Kennedy Berryman (1869-1949) features President Theodore Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear character. Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, was responsible for the association between Roosevelt and the popular toy bear. In November 1902, Roosevelt took part in a bear hunt in Mississippi. In the course of the hunt, Roosevelt came upon a bear that had been wounded by the hunt’s dogs and at first refused to shoot it, but later ordered that the animal be killed to end its suffering. The Washington Post ...
Why M.C.A.?: German Prisoners of War, World War One, before Y.M.C.A. Hut
This original ink-and-wash cartoon from World War I by Bruce Bairnsfather (1888-1959) depicts German prisoners of war lounging before a hut with a YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) sign. The cartoon is on a grey board. The witty holograph caption is on the back. Bairnsfather was a British army officer who was trained as an artist; while serving on the Western front in 1914-15, he made drawings of war scenes that were published in British magazines. He is best known as the creator of “Old Bill,” a fictional character ...
The Fencing Lesson
This original ink-and-watercolor caricature shows a petite, prancing Napoleon dueling with a heavy, domineering Gerhard Leberecht von Blücher, while a British sailor judges the match. The participants in the duel are backed by supporters: Napoleon’s faction includes French generals, while von Blücher’s includes German peasants and a Russian cossack. The caricature parodies political conditions at the time. Following Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, the Germanic states, led by Prussia, reentered the wars against Napoleon. At the time the caricature was made, Prussian incursions were the primary threat to ...
Relieving Guard at the Vatican
This pencil caricature depicts King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Napoleon III as soldiers changing guard, while Pope Pius IX peers around the corner. The caricature relates to the intricate maneuvering in the mid-19th century among France, Austria, the Papal States, and Italian nationalists that preceded the unification of Italy. French and Austrian troops had been in Rome to protect the Papal States since 1850, when Pius IX began to fear the rise of anti-papal nationalists. In 1858, the Sardinians entered into an agreement with Napoleon III to fight ...
England Plate 2nd
This unsigned wash drawing is presumed to be the original by William Hogarth (1697-1764) for the etched plate, The Invasion, Plate 2, England. Hogarth was a major English pictorial satirist and social critic. He was also one of the first artists to draw subjects in a series. One of his best-known works is the series The Rake’s Progress, which shows the downfall of a young man of means who squanders his inheritance. The Invasion series, consisting of two plates, depicts the French plotting an invasion of England while the ...
Soldiers on a March: "To Pack up Her Tatters and Follow the Drum"
This hand-colored etched caricature is by British caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756?-1827). Rowlandson was trained as an artist in both England and France, but seems to have seen his profession as a way to make money rather than as an art form. As a result, he produced works that would sell – including pornographic images and illustrations of poems, as well as cartoons. Rowlandson produced his works by first drawing an image, then washing it with color, etching it on copper, having it engraved by a professional engraver, and then hand ...
A Woman Dropping Her Tea-cup in Horror upon Discovering the Monstrous Contents of a Magnified Drop of Thames Water Revealing the Impurity of London Drinking Water
This 1828 caricature shows a woman looking into a microscope to observe the monsters swimming in a drop of London water. In the 1820s, much of London’s drinking water came from the Thames River, which was heavily polluted by the city sewers that emptied into it. A Commission on the London Water Supply that was appointed to investigate this situation issued a report in 1828, which resulted in various improvements. The five water companies that served the north bank of the river upgraded the quality of their water by ...
El Mosquito, January 3, 1875
El Mosquito, which described itself as a “weekly independent, satirical, burlesque periodical with caricatures,” appeared for the first time on May 24, 1863. In the more than 1,500 issues published between then and the last issue in 1893, the newspaper satirized the behavior of local politicians. The publication provides a unique vantage point on the formation of the modern nation-state in Argentina. Published on Sundays, the newspaper consisted of four pages, with the two middle pages exclusively dedicated to lithographs that caricaturized current events and important figures of the ...
Road to Philadelphy
This circa 1830 print by Edward Williams Clay (1799–1857) caricatures the pretentiousness and prejudice of early 19th-century Philadelphia Quakers toward people they regarded as their social inferiors, but it also mocks those seeking to imitate the Quaker elite. On a Philadelphia road in front of a small house with an open picket fence and a visitor arriving on horseback, a raggedly dressed, dark-skinned traveler with buck teeth, possibly an Irishman or African American, asks a rotund Quaker man and his daughter, "I say, this isn't the road to ...