Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/12

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vi
PREFACE.

placing the present work before the public, an apology will scarcely be considered necessary.

Depending oftentimes for effect upon overdrawing, nearly always upon a graphic power entirely out of the range of ordinary art, the work of the caricaturist is not to be measured by the ordinary standard of artistic excellence, but rather by the light which it throws upon popular opinion or popular prejudice, in relation to the events, the remembrance of which it perpetuates and chronicles. While, however, a latitude is allowed to the caricaturist which would be inconsistent with the principles by which the practice of art is ordinarily governed, it may at the same time be safely laid down that it is essential to the success of the comic designer as well as the caricaturist, that both should be artists of ability, though not necessarily men of absolute genius.

It may be contended that Gillray, Rowlandson, Bunbury, and others, although commencing work before, are really quite as much nineteenth century graphic satirists as their successors. This I admit; but inasmuch as their work has been already described by other writers, and the present book concerns itself especially with those whose labours commenced after 1800, I have endeavoured to connect them with those of their predecessors and contemporaries, without unnecessarily entering into detail with which the reader is supposed to be already more or less familiar.

I am in hopes that the character in which I am enabled to present George Cruikshank as the leading caricaturist of the century; the account I have given of his hitherto almost