word caricature is a picture that distorts or exaggerates the physical
features or peculiarities of a person or an object. It comes from the
Italian word caricare, which means to “load” or to “exaggerate”.
Caricatures are created with the intention of ridiculing or satirizing a
subject. It is said to have been coined by the famous painter Annibale
Carracci, who is also said to have given the device the hues that we see in
modern caricatures and cartoons.
The Protestants or the
Roman Catholic beliefs were the first targets, when caricature began to be
used as an important device for getting a point across. It began in Europe,
in the early sixteenth century. This was during the Reformation, the
Britain produced great caricaturists during the next two centuries. A name
that stood out for the caricatures against English society of his times was
William Hogarth. Other noted caricaturists included George Cruikshank, James
Thomas Rowlandson, who were particularly noted for their biting
political caricatures. Of these, the style of James Gillray was such that
his drawing neatly complemented the grossness of his subjects.
caricature made its advent in England in the eighteenth century. Between
1780 and 1820, political caricaturing reached a feverish pitch. They were produced mostly by amateurs. George Townshend was one such caricaturist who spared neither
personal friends nor celebrities. All the same, it was these amateurs who
eventually shaped the characteristic style of caricatures.
France, it was the artist Honore Daumier, who made his mark as a specialized
caricaturist during the early nineteenth century. He once drew an
exaggerated graphic of King Louis, presenting him as a giant pear! He drew
caricatures of the rising middle class, satirizing their fashion, tastes and
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, several cartoon
conventions such as captions, speech balloons, and the division of the paper
into frames to present a series of related or contrasted pictures (though
not a narrative) evolved. The last one was reportedly the seed from which
the comic strip was born. A noted artist who used these devices specifically
for the purpose of narrating a comic story was the Swiss cartoonist Rodolphe
Töpffer, who published his Adventures
of Dr. Festus in 1829.
advent of lithography, in the late 18th century, was capitalized upon by
artists in France and soon caricature became associated with journalism.
Artists were now able to draw directly on stones, from which prints could be
taken. Two satirical periodicals, La Caricature (a weekly) and La Charivari (a daily), both founded by Charles Philipon in the
1830s, exerted tremendous influence on artists. There reached a time when
there followed a censorship and the La
Charivari took to social satire. There emerged a style called “loaded
portrait”, which allowed for both allegorisation and caricature.
the United States, caricatures mainly appeared as political cartoons in
newspapers. The artist Thomas Nast made a name for himself between the years
1869 and 1872. He mainly targeted political corruption in New York city.
the mid twentieth century, single-panel gag cartoons, comic strips, and
comic books gained in popularity. The medium however, did receive a boost by
caricaturists. Some noted cartoonists include Robert Osborn, Patrick Bruce
Oliphant and David Levine from the United States and Cecil Beaton, Gerard
Hoffnung, Ronald Searle and Gerald Scarfe from England.