Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/27
OF THE ENGLISH CARICATURE AND ITS DECAY.
Definition of CaricatureIf you turn to the word "caricatura" in your Italian dictionary, it is just possible that you will be gratified by learning that it means "caricature"; but if you refer to the same word in old Dr. Johnson, he will tell you, with the plain, practical common-sense which distinguished him, that it signifies "an exaggerated resemblance in drawings," and this expresses exactly what it does mean. Any distinguishing feature or peculiarity, whether in face, figure, or dress, is exaggerated, and yet the likeness is preserved. A straight nose is presented unnaturally straight, a short nose unnaturally depressed; a prominent forehead is drawn unusually bulbous; a protuberant jaw unnaturally underhung; a fat man is depicted preternaturally fat, and a thin one correspondingly lean. This at least was the idea of caricature during the last century. Old Francis Grose, who, in 1791, wrote certain "Rules for Drawing Caricaturas," gives us the following explanation of their origin:—"The sculptors of ancient Greece," he tells us, "seem to have diligently observed the form and proportions constituting the European ideas of beauty, and upon them to have formed their statues. These measures are to be met with in many drawing books; a slight deviation from them by the predominancy of any feature constitutes what is called character, and serves to discriminate the owner thereof and to fix the idea of identity. This deviation or peculiarity aggravated, forms caricatura."