Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/293

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STARTS AS A PAINTER IN OILS.

family afterwards took a turn which probably frequently gave Vaughan père (if he lived to ruminate thereon) some serious cause for reflection as well as of repentance.

Like Hogarth, with whom this artist, like all other comic designers, has been frequently and improperly compared, young Robert Seymour declined to waste his abilities as a mere mechanical draughtsman, and used his technical education as a means of cultivating the artistic gifts with which nature and inclination had endowed him. He seems at first to have selected a walk in art which required for its ultimate success a larger amount of application and patience than he could well spare for the purpose. Shortly after the expiration of his indentures, he started as a painter in oils, and executed several pictures, one of which (a Biblical subject) included, it is said, no less than one hundred figures, whilst a no less ambitious subject than Tasso's "Jerusalem Delivered" was deemed of sufficient merit to be exhibited on the walls of the Royal Academy. Other pictorial subjects were taken from "Don Quixote," "Waverley," "The Tempest," etc., besides which he executed numerous portraits and miniatures. These efforts, however, do not appear to have been sufficiently remunerative to encourage him to continue them, and after a time he resigned them to follow a branch of art more congenial, perhaps, to his abilities, and thenceforth very rapidly acquired fame as a social satirist and caricaturist.

The coloured caricatures of Robert Seymour, besides being comparatively scarce and little known, seem hardly to call for any particular description; the titles of some of them will be found mentioned in our Appendix. One which has survived, and with which the public are probably most familiar, is one of the worst of the series. It is entitled, Going it by Steam, is signed "Short Shanks," and was published by King. Among rarer and better ones may be named two very excellent specimens, without date, published by Creed, of Chancery Lane, labelled respectively, A Musical Genius (a butcher boy playing on the Pandean pipes and accompanying himself with marrow bone and cleaver), and A Man of Taste and Feeling (a tramp caught in a trap while helping himself