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British Satire

Following the Fashion, 1794, by James Gillray

Satirical caricatures were inescapable in London during the 1700s and 1800s. Often lighthearted and cheeky upon first glance, the images could also be mulled over and picked apart at leisure. A bawdy scene or grotesque facial expression instantly amused, while closer study revealed deeper literary or political references. Whether a fashionable dandy or a poor chimney sweep, no one escaped the scrutiny of caricaturists. This selection of brightly colored etchings from the museum’s large collection of British satirical prints reveals the widespread appeal of caricature in Georgian England and demonstrates the ways in which such images teased and provoked audiences.