Satire

See also Caricature

Satirical illustration, often used in newspapers and magazines as a form of social and political commentary, centres around the use of caricature, metaphor and humour to hit its targets. Satirical illustration is always of the moment it was created. It comments on contemporary events and to appreciate the message you need to read the image with some knowledge of what’s been going on.

There is a rich history of satirical illustration and political cartooning in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, especially from the eighteenth century onwards.

Research point
Steve Bell, the contemporary political satirist who produces the If… cartoon strip and other editorial pieces for The Guardian, regularly makes reference to the political satire of earlier times by re-working it with a contemporary twist. By doing this he’s also making satirical references to the past – making a link between the contemporary moment and a similar (or different) historical one.
Look at the work of William Hogarth, James Gillray, George Cruikshank or other eighteenthcentury political satirists and pick out examples you think could be successfully re-worked for a contemporary audience. Strip away the layers of eighteenth-century meaning to establish the core symbolism and metaphors that make the satire work. Identify what would you replace with what to make this work for a contemporary setting.

Steve Bell History of caricature and cartoons

William Hogarth

James Gillray

Ronald Searle

Ralph Steadman

George Cruikshank

Steve Bell