This exhibition presents the Golden Age of satirical prints and drawings in Europe, focusing on the period 1730–1870. William Hogarth's images of London street life, with all its chaos and transgressions, set the stage for the next generation of English satirists including Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and George Cruikshank. Their audacious prints range from political satires that were aimed directly at prominent public figures, to scenarios that highlight fashions, fads and social manners as subjects of mockery. Because these prints reached a wide audience, they were a catalyst for gossip and debate, and influenced the public's views on issues of the day. The exhibition also explores contemporary and subsequent satirical art in Spain and France. In 1799 the Spanish artist Francisco Goya published Los Caprichos, a series of etchings that express the values of the Enlightenment in their condemnation of prejudice, ignorance and superstition. In France the genre of visual satire had its greatest artist in Honoré Daumier, whose prints were widely circulated and enormously popular in the nineteenth century. Like all of the satirical works in the exhibition, these images reveal something about human nature, as well as commenting on historically specific situations and individuals.
27 February – 26 July 2009
National Gallery of Victoria International
180 St Kilda Road,
Wednesday - Monday: 10am – 5pm
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