brought to America at the age of six; and his training and all his interests were strongly American. At fourteen he was an illustrator on Leslie’s Weekly, and was sent at twenty to England to illustrate the famous Sayers-Heenan prize-fight. He then went as recorder of Garibaldi’s campaign of 1860. He returned to America known only as an illustrator. The Civil War did not awaken his latent genius till 1864, when he published a cartoon of fierce irony against the political party which opposed Lincoln’s re-election and advocated peace measures with the Southern confederacy. This cartoon not only made Nast famous, but may be said to contain the germ of American caricature; for all that had gone before was too crude in technique to pass muster even as good caricature.
The magnificent corruption of Tammany Hall under the leadership of William M. Tweed, the first of the great municipal “bosses,” gave Nast a subject worth attacking. Siegfried, earnest but light-hearted, armed with the mightier sword of the pen of ridicule, assailed the monster ensconced in his treasure-cave, and after a long battle won a brilliant victory. Nast did not always rely on a mere picture to carry his thrust; often his cartoon consisted of only a minor figure or two looking at a large placard on which a long and poignantly-worded attack was delivered in cold type. At other times the most ingenious pictorial subtlety was displayed. This long series sounds almost the whole gamut of caricature, from downright ridicule to the most lofty denunciation. A very happy device was the representation of Tweed’s face by a money-bag with only dollar marks for features, a device which, strangely enough, made a curiously faithful likeness of the “boodle”-loving despot. When, finally, Tweed took to flight, to escape imprisonment, he was recognized and caught, it is said, entirely through the wide familiarity given to his image in Nast’s cartoons.
When Nast retired from Harper’s Weekly, he was succeeded by Charles Green Bush (born 1842; died 1909). With even greater technical resources, he poured forth a series of cartoons of remarkable evenness of skill and interest; he soon left weekly for daily journalism. He never won, single-handed, such a battle as Nast’s, but his drawings have a more general, perhaps a more lasting interest. When he left Harper’s Weekly he was succeeded by W. A. Rogers, who composed many ingenious and telling cartoons.
The vogue which, through Nast, Harper’s Weekly gave to caricature, prepared the way for the first purely comic weekly paper, Puck, founded by two Germans, and for long published in a German as well as an English edition—a journal which has cast its influence generally in favour of the Democratic party. It is worth noting that not only the founders but the spirit of American caricature have been rather German than English, the American comic papers more closely resembling Fliegende Blätter, for example, than Punch. One of the founders of Puck was Joseph Keppler (1838–1894), long its chief caricaturist.
The Republican party soon found a champion in Judge, a weekly satirical paper which resembles Puck closely in its crudely coloured pages, though somewhat broader and less ambitious in the spirit and execution of its black-and-white illustrations. These two papers have kept rather strictly to permanent staffs, and have furnished the opening for many popular draughtsmen, such as Bernhard Gillam (d. 1896), and his brother, Victor; J. A. Wales (d. 1886); E. Zimmerman, whose extremely plebeian and broadly treated types often obscure the observation and Falstaffian humour displayed in them; Grant Hamilton; Frederick Opper, for many years devoted to the trials of suburban existence, and later concerned in combating the trusts; C. J. Taylor, a graceful technician; H. Smith; Frank A. Nankivell, whose pretty athletic girls are prone to attitudinizing; J. Mortimer Flagg; F. M. Howarth; Mrs Frances O’Neill Latham, whose personages are singularly well modelled and alive; and Miss Baker Baker, a skilful draughtswoman of animals.
A stimulus to genuine art in caricature was given by the establishment (1883) of the weekly Life, edited by J. A. Mitchell, a clever draughtsman as well as an original writer. It is to this paper that America owes the discovery and encouragement of its most remarkable artist humorist, Charles Dana Gibson, whose technique has developed through many interesting phases from exceeding delicacy to a sculpturesque boldness of line without losing its rich texture, and without becoming monotonous. Mr Gibson is chiefly beloved by his public for his almost idolatrous realizations of the beautiful American woman of various types, ages and environments. His works are, however, full of the most subtle character-observations, and American men of all walks of life, and foreigners of every type, impart as much importance and humour to his pages as his “Gibson girls” give radiance. His admitted devotion to Du Maurier, in reverence for the beautiful woman beautifully attired, has led some critics to set him down as a mere disciple, while his powerful individuality has led others to accuse him of monotony; but a serious examination of his work has seemed to reveal that he has gone beyond the genius of Du Maurier in sophistication, if not in variety, of subjects and treatment. As much as any other artist Mr Gibson has studiously tried new experiments in the new fields opened by modernized processes of photo-engraving, and has been an important influence in both English and American line-illustration.
Among other students of society, particular success has been achieved by C. S. Reinhart (1844–1896), Charles Howard Johnson (d. 1895), H. W. M‘Vickar, S. W. van Schaick, A. E. Sterner, W. H. Hyde, W. T. Smedley and A. B. Wenzell, each of them strongly individual in manner and often full of verve and truth.
Life, and other comic papers, including for many years Truth, also brought forward caricaturists of distinct worth and a marked tendency to specialization. F. E. Atwood (d. 1900) was ingenious in cartoons lightly allegorical; Oliver Herford has shown a fascination elusive of analysis in his drawings as in his verse; T. S. Sullivant has made a quaintly intellectual application of the old-world devices of large heads, small bodies, and the like; Peter Newell has developed individuality both in treatment and in humour; E. W. Kemble is noteworthy among the exploiters of negro life; and H. B. Eddy, Augustus Dirk, Robert L. Wagner, A. Anderson, F. Sarka and J. Swinnerton have all displayed marked individuality.
In distinction from the earlier period, the modern school of American caricature is strongly national, not only in subject, but in origin, training and in mental attitude, exception being made of a few notable figures, such as Michael Angelo Woolf, born in England, and of a somewhat Cruikshankian technique. He came to America while young, and contributed a long series of what may be called slum-fantasies, instinct alike with laughter and sorrow, at times strangely combining extravagant melodrama with a most plausible and convincing impossibility. His drawings must always lie very close to the affections of the large audience that welcomed them. American also by adoption is Henry Mayer, a German by birth, who has contributed to many of the chief comic papers of France, England, Germany and America.
Entirely native in every way is the art of A. B. Frost (b. 1851), a prominent humorist who deals with the life of the common people. His caricature (he is also an illustrator of versatility and importance) is distinguished by its anatomical knowledge, or, rather, anatomical imagination. Violent as the action of his figures frequently is, it is always convincing. Such triumphs as the tragedy of the kind-hearted man and the ungrateful bull-calf; the spinster’s cat that ate rat poison, and many others, force the most serious to laughter by their amazing velocity of action and their unctuousness of expression. Frost is to American caricature what “Artemus Ward” has been to American humour, and his field of publication has been chiefly the monthly magazine.
The influence of the weekly periodicals has been briefly traced. A later development was the entrance of the omnivorous daily newspaper into the field of both the magazine and the weekly. For many years almost every newspaper has printed its daily cartoon, generally of a political nature. Few of the cartoonists have been able to keep up the pace of a daily inspiration, but C. G. Bush has been unusually successful in the attempt. Yet an occasional success atones for many slips, and the cartoonists are known and eagerly watched. The most influential has doubtless been Homer C. Davenport, whose slender artistic resources have been eked out by a vigour and mercilessness of assault rare even in American annals. He has a Rabelaisian complacency and skill in making a portrait magnificently repulsive, and his caricatures are a vivid example of the school of cartoonists who believe in slashing rather than merely prodding or tickling the object of attack. Charles Nelan (1859–1904) frequently scored, and in the wide extent of the United States one finds keen wits busily assailing the manifold evils of life. Noteworthy among them are: Thos. E. Powers, H. R. Heaton, Albert Levering, Clare Angell and R. C. Swayne.
Scandinavia.—Caricature flourishes also in the Scandinavian countries, but few names are known beyond their borders. Professor Hans Tegner of Denmark is an exception; his illustrations to Hans Andersen (English edition, 1900) have carried his name wherever that author is appreciated, yet his reputation was made in the Danish Punch, which was founded after the year 1870 but has long ceased to exist. Alfred Schmidt and Axel Thiess have contributed notable sketches to Puk and its successor Klockhaus, but in point of style they scarcely carry on the tradition of their predecessor, Fritz Jürgensen. Among humorous artists of Norway, Th. Kittelsen perhaps holds the leading place, and in Sweden, Bruno Liljefors, best known as a brilliant painter of bird life.
Bibliography.—Rules for Drawing Caricature, with an Essay on Comic Painting, by Francis Grose (8vo, London, 1788); Historical Sketch of the Art of Caricaturing, by J. Peller Malcolm (4to, London, 1813); History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art, by Thomas Wright (8vo, London, 1865); Musée de la caricature, by Jaime; (a) Histoire de la caricature antique; (b) Histoire de la caricature au moyen âge et sous la renaissance; (c) Histoire de la caricature sous la réforme et la ligue; (d) Histoire de la caricature sous la république, l’empire, et la restauration; (e) Histoire de la caricature moderne (5 vols.), by Champfleury (i.e. Jules Fleury), (8vo, Paris); Le Musée secret de la caricature, by Champfleury (i.e. Jules Fleury), (8vo, Paris); L’Art du rire et de la caricature, by Arsène Alexandre (8vo, Paris); Caricature and other Comic Art, by James Parton (sm. 4to, New York, 1878); Le Miroir de la vie: la Caricature, by Robert de la Sizeranne (8vo, Paris, 1902), (tracing the aesthetic development of the art and spirit of caricature); La Caricature à travers les siècles, by Georges Veyrat (4to, Paris); La Caricature et les caricaturistes, by Émile Bagaud (with a preface by Ch. Léandre), (fo., Paris); Le Rire et la caricature, by Paul Gaultier (with a preface by Sully Prudhomme), (8vo, Paris, 1906), (a workof originality, dwelling not only on the aesthetic but on the essentially