The anatomy of laughter

The Museum-reserve “Tsaritsyno” opened a large exposition of the English caricature of the eighteenth — first third of the XIX century. Arzamas is publishing extracts from its books curator Basil assumption that explains how were organized the cartoons of the time.

About half of the exhibits are the works of Gillray James (1757-1815), who is often called the main British cartoonist and most influential satirical schedule of all time.

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James Which was born in the family of a Scottish military man, a war veteran, a member of the Moravian religious brotherhood, grim ascetic Protestant sects. Retired Gilray father served as a Sexton to the Moravian cemetery. The Moravian brethren preached the renunciation of earthly goods and pleasures, their children have forbidden any toys. All four brothers and sisters Gilray did not live to adult age, and one of the brothers dying eight-year-old urged death as a deliverance from earthly life. Educated in a closed Moravian Academy, Which is 14 years received an assistant engraver, specializing in the creation of calligraphic signatures, but, finding this occupation is dull, throw it all away and for some time traveled the country with a troupe of actors. Finally, at the age of 22 years, he managed to enter the Royal Academy of arts, where he studied the art of engraving by the best craftsmen of the era. At the same time, Which was to create the first cartoons. Initially, this activity was for him obviously a side source of income. Low birth Gilray closed path in the academic art career reproduction of the engraver is also not specified. Which is dabbled in the role of a historical painter, he even managed to present their works to the court of the king, but to gain a foothold in the academic art of he was not destined.

But Which was able to establish himself as a figure independent of the official hierarchy, but they are not less influential. Audience Gilray were people of “high rank, good taste, and education.” Only they could fully perceive and appreciate its compound leaves, full of inscriptions in ancient languages, quotations from the works of art and literature, multi-layered allegories, allusions to the political and social life of London society. The sophistication of the content match the sophistication of performance — many of the sheets are made in a complex mixed technique.

Cartoons Gilroy not only parodied the individual paintings and entire scenic course but, in turn, become a source of inspiration for the official artists. Goya, David, Delacroix are just a few of the masters, in one way or another influenced by Gilray.

All of the currents of English art of the turn of the century most Gilray more than anything was close to romanticism — its concentration on the dark side of life, the craving for the horrible and ugly in well with the nature of the cartoons. Romantic images and clichés — images of supernatural phenomena, nightmares, prophecies of Apocalypse and formed the basis of a caricature of phantasmagoria Gilray.

Exclusion from high art, the precarious financial situation, especially education left a mark on the psyche of the artist: in his works, there is a craving for violence and suppressed sexual feeling. This gave rise to the cartoonist’s talented, passionate, cynical, angry, resourceful, and extremely productive — has not been equal. Which was an introvert, all the complexes and phobias were driven deep into — even in the Zenith of his fame he was not posing as a rejected genius and in no way outwardly showed no artistic extravagance. He has not been in society and rarely left his home. He lived in the same house, which housed the caricature shop Hannah Humphrey, where he printed, painted and sold his leaves. Hannah lived right there with him. About their relationship were all sorts of rumors, but apparently, it replaced his mother than his wife: she was eleven years his senior.

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Contemporaries were struck by the ordinariness of his appearance and manners: “It gives the impression of such everyday simplicity, such a direct, unpretentious personality that nobody could have guessed in this dry man with glasses great artist”. Another witness said, “From year to year, he from time to time was Smoking a pipe in the Bell, “Coal” or “Carriage and horses” and although drinking companions, whom he met on these vulgar rendezvous, he knew that he was the Which that produced those funny prints… he never wanted… to become king… and he had no special reverence”.

William Makepeace Thackeray, a big fan of cartoons, and the cartoonist wrote about Gilrae: “Talented artist… was far from society that he ridiculed and entertained. Which is observed politicians when they passed his shop on my way to St. James street, or on the sidelines of the house of Commons. His Studio was located somewhere in the attic, his resting place was, where he and his company spent a lot of time, puffing at his pipe and spitting on the floor strewn with sawdust. It is impossible to portray a society that does not know”. Although the quote of a contemporary, the above seems to confirm the findings of the Thackeray, works of Gillray, as well as some facts of his biography indicate that everything was different. Cartoons Gilroy demonstrate not only a comprehensive education of their author but also his familiarity with such details of the political, artistic and social life which were known only to the initiated. He was not a frequenter of the salons and political clubs, but around him, there were people of all ranks. Police looking for friendship, aristocrats were eager to have etched a caricature in their sketch, scientists have suggested ideas for new sheets. Within their shop, Which is a dry man with glasses, was in the center of London in the world.

In the end, passion eaten Gilray inside and coming out in a grotesque phantasmagoria ruined him. With age Which began to lose vision, and then to experience bouts of insanity, during one of which tried to commit suicide by jumping from the window of a caricature shop Humphrey. In 1811, he finally lost his mind and lived his remaining four years in charge have not left it to Hannah.

Prints Gilray overcome the laws of the genre and the comic frame, towering to a synthesis of artistic images. He outlined this paradoxical phenomenon as “caricatura-sublime” — “the sublime caricature”. Largely because of Gillray caricature was perceived in Europe as a full-fledged art, who had their own collectors, critics, and biographers.

Which was a versatile cartoonist? He was subject to all the genres of satire and caricature techniques. On the example of his work can clearly show how comprehensive was an English satirical graphics from the Golden age. Caricature is not only laughing — she castigated the voices and sang of heroes, guarding public morality, and challenged the foundations, formulated a national idea and created the image of the enemy, served as a political propaganda and unite the nation in the face of external threats. There was something caustic, good-natured, enthusiastic, cynical.

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Independent and not knowing prohibitions caricature of England became the universal language, a way of perceiving the world. She played the role of the counterculture, the questioning of all foundations of existence. It committed daily revolution — political, moral, aesthetic. It’s recognized leader was James Which is.

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