woodward-me-of-letters

A quick post to share this image of an original caricature drawing by the humorist G.M. Woodward which sold at auction earlier today. Woodward, as readers of this blog will no doubt be well aware, exercised considerable creative influence upon the English satirical print trade in the years between 1790 and his death in 1809. His lack of skill as an artist and engraver meant that he was never able to produce print in his own right, but his ready wit and eye for a good pun meant that publishers frequently sought to pair him up with caricaturists who were capable of bringing his ideas to life. As such, Woodward worked with such satirical luminaries as Thomas Rowlandson, Isaac Cruikshank and Richard Newton, as well as a plethora of less well-known names.

This drawing, with its play on the contemporary habit of redacting personal names from prints, is typical of Woodward’s oeuvre. It shows two elderly men eyeing each other up in a rather unfriendly manner. The one of the left asks: “Is you name O. ____N? To which the other lazily replies “N____O”. It’s been executed in pen, with a watercolour wash and measures 9½ x 6¾inches. Woodward’s signature can be seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the design. No printed version of the image is known to exist, so we must assume that the drawing was either a proof for a caricature which was either never commissioned or has subsequently been lost, or a private commission from a contemporary collector of Woodward’s original works.

Although the Derbyshire record office possesses a large collection of original drawings by Woodward, as well as the remnants of his personal papers, they are comparatively rare on the open market. It is therefore not surprising that a complete drawing such as this achieved the respectable hammer price of £700.

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