Caricatures and Their History in the United States and the World Liteblue USPS Gov Login

Many people think that caricatures are just an outdated or wacky form of entertainment, but caricaturists have made many important contributions to politics, culture, and art over the years. Whether endearing or insulting, caricaturing has a long and interesting history, and is responsible for many of America’s most famous icons. Who can think of American politics without Uncle Sam, Liteblue USPS Gov Login or Christmas without Santa Claus? The art of caricature is more than an occasional novelty. Below is a short history of some of caricature’s great accomplishments. liteblue login

– The word “caricature” comes from the Italian caricare, or “to load”-the object of a caricature is to invest the image with as much meaning as possible. Caricatures are essentially much exaggerated portraits, with certain features emphasized for a humorous effect.

– Some of the earliest caricatures exist in the work of Leonardo da Vinci, who looked for people with unusual features to use as models.

– Caricature art first met with popularity in the 18th century aristocracy of France and Italy, where portraits were used as entertainment and satire.

– In the 1800s, Thomas Nast, known as the “Father of American Cartoons”, gave us the caricatures of the United States’ two major political parties-the GOP elephant and Democrat donkey symbol-and the classic depiction of Santa Claus that we think of today. Earlier artists depicted Santa as a tall, thin man; Nast drew him as the plump, bearded fellow so popular now. Nast’s rendering of Uncle Sam, the lanky man in the top hat and patriotic colors that represents the United States of America, is still in circulation today. Nast also depicted the United States as a female personification called Columbia, a neoclassical figure often pictured defending democracy.

– In the 1900s, the U.S. Postal Service commissioned the caricatures of Al Hirschfeld for US stamps.

Caricatures today have appeared by distinguished artists in such magazines as Rolling Stones, Time, Playboy, Vanity Fair, and Reader’s Digest, and can play an important role in social critiques and satire, as well as a purely playful art form. Modern caricature artists today are commissioned for many events to sketch guests, friends, and family, and caricatures are still published in newspapers and political cartoons. There is no doubt that, whether as a novelty among friends or a tool for cultural commentary, the caricature continues to delight and surprise us with its ever-changing styles. It is certainly an art form we have no intention of soon letting go.


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