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OBJECTS OF RIDICULE
The art of political caricature enjoyed a golden age in Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Usually comic, often indelicate and sometimes deadly serious, it ridiculed political figures and their policies in colourful prints which were enthusiastically received. The genre continued into the nineteenth century, with targets moving from the royal court and revolutionary France to electoral reform and social conditions. No longer limited to distribution through print shops, they could be enjoyed by readers of newspapers like The Times. The freedom of artistic expression evident in the satirical images included non-political caricature, which mocked fashionable society and its pretensions. In the surviving works of such artists we find a fascinating view of people, events and opinions, deliberately distorted for wit and effect. The exhibition draws primarily on the University’s collections of both archives and printed books. The subjects of satire range from William Pitt and his political rivals to the cause of female emancipation. The display is enriched with original works by the artist George Woodward (c.1765-1809). These are generously loaned by the Derbyshire Record Office which holds the Woodward archive.