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Daily political cartoons from the world.
A political cartoon, a type of editorial cartoon, is a graphic with caricatures of public figures, expressing the artist’s opinion. An artist who writes and draws such images is known as an editorial cartoonist. They typically combine artistic skill, hyperbole, and satire in order to question authority and draw attention to corruption, political violence, and other social ills. Developed in England in the latter part of the 18th century, James Gillray was a pioneer of the political cartoon, although he and others in the flourishing English industry were sold as individual prints in print shops. Founded in 1841, the British periodical Punch appropriated the term cartoon to refer to its political cartoons, which led to the term’s widespread use. The pictorial satire has been credited as the precursor to the political cartoons in England: John J. Richetti, in The Cambridge history of English literature, 1660–1780, states that “English graphic satire really begins with Hogarth’s Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme”. William Hogarth’s pictures combined social criticism with sequential artistic scenes. A frequent target of his satire was the corruption of early 18th century British politics. An early satirical work was an Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme (c.1721), about the disastrous stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea Bubble, in which many English people lost a great deal of money. His art often had a strong moralizing element to it, such as in his masterpiece of 1732–33, A Rake’s Progress, engraved in 1734. It consisted of eight pictures that depicted the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant, who spends all of his money on luxurious living, services from sex workers, and gambling—the character’s life ultimately ends in Bethlem Royal Hospital. However, his work was only tangentially politicized and was primarily regarded on its artistic merits. George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend produced some of the first overtly political cartoons and caricatures in the 1750s. The medium began to develop in England in the latter part of the 18th century—especially around the time of the French Revolution—under the direction of its great exponents, James Gillray, and Thomas Rowlandson, both from London. Gillray explored the use of the medium for lampooning and caricature and has been referred to as the father of the political cartoon. Calling the king, prime ministers and generals to account, many of Gillray’s satires were directed against George III, depicting him as a pretentious buffoon, while the bulk of his work was dedicated to ridiculing the ambitions of Revolutionary France and Napoleon. The times in which Gillray lived were peculiarly favorable to the growth of a great school of caricature. Party warfare was carried on with great vigour and not a little bitterness, and personalities were freely indulged in on both sides. Gillray’s incomparable wit and humor, knowledge of life, the fertility of resource, a keen sense of the ludicrous, and beauty of execution, at once gave him the first place among caricaturists.