Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/37

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5
ORIGIN OF MODERN SCHOOL OF GRAPHIC SATIRE.

Revolution effected by H. B.over the spirit of English graphic satire. The coarseness and suggestiveness of the old caricaturists gradually disappeared, until at length, in 1830, an artist arose who was destined to work a complete revolution in the style and manner of English caricature. This artist was John Doyle,—the celebrated H. B. He it was that discovered that pictures might be made mildly diverting without actual coarseness or exaggeration; and when this fact was accepted, the art of caricaturing underwent a complete transition, and assumed a new form. The "Sketches" of H. B. owe their chief attraction to the excellence of their designer as a portrait painter; his successors, with less power in this direction but with better general artistic abilities, rapidly improved upon his idea, and thus was founded the modern school of graphic satirists represented by Richard Doyle, John Leech, and John Tenniel. So completely was the style of comic art changed under the auspices of these clever men, that the very name of "caricature" disappeared, and the modern word "cartoon" assumed its place. With the exception indeed of Carlo Pellegrini (the "Ape" of Vanity Fair), and his successors, we have now no caricaturist in the old and true acceptation of the term, and original and clever as their productions are, their compositions are timid compared with those of Bunbury, Gillray, Rowlandson, and their successors, being limited to a weekly "exaggerated" portrait, instead of composed of many figures.

But caricature was destined to receive its final blow at the hands of that useful craftsman the wood-engraver. The application of wood-engraving to all kinds of illustration, whether graphic or comic, and the mode in which time, labour, and expense are economised, by the large wood blocks being cut up into squares, and each square entrusted to the hands of a separate workman, has virtually superseded the old and far mere effective process of etching. Economy is now the order of the day in matters of graphic satire as in everything else; people are no longer found willing to pay a shilling for a caricature when they may obtain one for a penny. Hence it has come to pass, that whilst comic artists abound, the prevailing spirit of economy has reduced their