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Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires

 

Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings
in the British Museum

   
 

In the late 1800s the British Museum began to catalogue their enormous collection of satirical prints. When the catalogue was completed nearly a century later, it would consist of 12 thick volumes of small text that described prints spanning five centuries of British history. The volumes are accompanied by 32 rolls of microfilm containing images of the prints. Today there are roughly 17,400 prints in the collection.

 

Dates

Numbers

Publication
Date

   Vol. I

1320-1688

1 - 1235

1870

   Vol. II

1689-1733

1236-2015

1873

   Vol. III, pt 1

1734-1750

2016-3804

1877

   Vol. III, pt 2

1751-1760

 

 

   Vol. IV

1761-1770

3805-4838

1883

   Vol. V

1771-1783

4839-6360

1935

   Vol. VI

1784-1792

6361-8283

1938

   Vol. VII

1793-1800

8284-9692

1942

   Vol. VIII

1801-1810

9693-11703

1947

   Vol. IX

1811-1819

11704-13500

1949

   Vol. X

1820-1827

13501-15496

1952

   Vol. XI

1828-1832

15497-17391

1954

       

The first four volumes written by Frederic George Stephens, catalogued prints published between 1320 and 1770.

The majority of the Museum's collection consists of prints published between the mid-1700's and the early 1800's. These were catalogued over the course of 20 years by Mary Dorothy George. Her detailed descriptions and careful analysis elucidated the historical events and identified important themes developed by individual and groups of artists. Her exhaustive research references a multitude of political, religious and economic sources.

George went on to write other major works on British caricature including English Political Caricature to 1792 (1959), English Political Caricature: A Study of Opinion and Propaganda (1959) and Hogarth to Cruickshank: Social Change in Graphic Satire (1967).

   
 
   
 

From the British Museum Factsheet: British Satirical Prints

The Department of Prints and Drawings holds the national collection of British single-sheet satirical prints from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. These prints, for the most part, are listed and described in the Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum by Frederic George Stephens (four volumes covering prints up to 1770 and published 1870-1883) and Mary Dorothy George (seven volumes covering prints between 1771-1832 and published 1935-1954). This catalogue has formed the basis for all later studies of British caricature and graphic satire.

 
   
 

From the exhibition catalogue James Gillray: The Art of Caricature
Tate Gallery Publishing LTD, London, 2001

Excerpt from the acknowledgements by Richard Godfrey and Martin Myrone

The exhibition is founded upon the scholarship of the late Mary Dorothy George, whose immense efforts at cataloguing the British Museum's collection of graphic satires put every student of the subject eternally in her debt. It would be inconceivable without the work of the distinguished American cartoonist Draper Hill, who organised the first major exhibition of Gillray mounted in London by the Arts Council in 1967. His groundbreaking publications, including Mr Gillray the Caricaturist (1965) and Fashionable Contrasts: Caricatures by James Gillray (1966) remain a constant point of reference for any study of the artist.

                 
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