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Caricature is an artist's exaggeration of certain physical characteristics or features of the human figure to indicate personality traits for comedic effect or criticism. Though caricature was used as a device in many cultures, the link between it and printmaking is strong due to the rise of satirical publications in late 18th and 19th century Western Europe.
The invention of the lithograph in 1798, as well as an interest in physiognomy, or the theory that character can be determined from physical features, led to a demand for caricatures in print. Coupled with the political and social unrest of the century, caricature grew in popularity, particularly in French satirical publications.
One of the earliest European caricaturists was Guiseppe Arcimboldo, who painted portraits where the facial features were constructed by the combined images of vegetables
The most prolific French caricaturist was Honore Daumier, who created over 6,000 prints satirizing the social and political scene of 19th century France. His boldness inspired the admiration of many great literary minds in the 19th and 20th centuries
One of the most famous caricaturists in the 18th was the British printmaker William Hogarth, who made political illustrations and satire of the upper class, with a particular focus on marital ethics