Funny Business

Aug. 15, 2015Dec. 1, 2015

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the medium of drawing became a thriving industry for British artists, publishers, and draftsmen alike. Caricature was one of the most popular genres in this expanding field. Initially developed as an art form in Italy, caricature was largely imported to London by upper middle class men returning from their Grand Tours of the European continent. Following caricature’s initial association with foreign influence, William Hogarth (1697-1764) argued for the creation of a distinctly British approach to social satire by observing individuals going about their everyday lives on the streets of London.

Considered the father of modern English satire, Hogarth paved the way for professional British artists to include humor in their works. Artists such as Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) and Isaac Cruikshank (1764-1811) built upon Hogarth’s precedent to create the foundation for a golden age of British caricature that roughly coincided with the reign of George III (1738-1820). This exhibition features 13 of these humorous works on paper drawn from the holdings of The Huntington’s art collections. Using a variety of different themes and techniques these artists played an integral role in creating a thriving market for British drawing and defining British humor during this period.