Searing disputes over caricature have recently sparked flames across the world"the culmination, not the beginning, of the story of one of modernity's definitive artistic practices.
Modern visual satire erupts during a period marked by reform and revolution, by cohering nationalisms and expanding empires, and by the emerging discipline of art history.
This has long been recognized as its Golden Age. It is time to look anew. In The Efflorescence of Caricature, 1759-1838, an international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational team of scholars reconfigures the geography of modern visual satire, as the expansive narrative reaches from North America to Europe, to China and the Ottoman Empire.
Caricature's specific visual cultures are also laid bare, its iconographic means and material support, as well as the diverse milieu of its making"the military, the art academy, diplomacy, politics, art criticism, and popular entertainment.
Some of its greatest practitioners"James Gillray and Honore Daumier"are seen in a new light, alongside some of their far flung and opportunistic pastichers.
Most trenchantly, assumptions about the consequences of caricature's rise come under intense scrutiny, interrogated for its cherished and long-vaunted civilizational claims on individual character, artistic supremacy, political liberty, and global domination.