Analysis Of Ralph Steadman

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A Tradition of Contempt This paper will discuss Ralph Steadman as an illustrator, but more specifically as a political cartoonist in post World War II Britain. His deeply set animosity for certain political figures and his caricaturization of them is a purely geographic feature. Steadman’s involvement in England’s top satirical publications boosted his credibility enough locally to garnish him better paying illustration jobs in the United States. These jobs not only brought better pay, but a new cast of politicians and elite society members for Steadman to poke his jokes at, thus further solidifying his reputation as the next great satirist from a long line of English caricature artists. In particular I am going to discuss other British cartoonists that share Steadman’s feelings towards the socially “elite”. This will help illuminate similarities between the artists and their common contempt for high society as well as prove that Steadman’s location of upbringing molded his satirically based career. Among these additional British illustrators are Gerald Scarfe and John Tenniel; both had also illustrated the pages of the weekly satire Punch (Fig.1)(Fig. 2). Scarfe’s style was extremely similar to Steadman’s and both Steadman and Tenniel are well known for their illustrations of Alice in Wonderland (Fig. 3)(Fig. 4). Thomas Nast is yet another illustrator who focussed on political cartoons in the British satirical publications of Punch and Private Eye (Fig. 5). Nast’s wit was not only responsible for the iconography that has become known as the modern day idea of Santa Claus, but one of his more famous illustrations was responsible for aiding in the capture of Boss Tweed (Fig. 5). Punch and the satirical ora that surrounde... ... middle of paper ... ...has his upbringing to thank. Growing up in a post Wold War II England surely had taken its tolls on the Steadman family. The once sense of patriotism and comfort that all of Europe once felt was instantly shattered by the second World War. This extreme tragedy clearly had an impact on Europe, and it was evident in the art. British illustrators of the time, Steadman and Scarfe, were both dealing with satirical subject matter that had been handled before, however with the new set sense of disillusionment they were creating work that was visually more expressive and satirical than ever. It seemed as if they’re sloppy and deconstructed mark making was symbolic of the ruins that Europe was left in after the war. This did nothing but strengthen the already prominent path set by British satire illustrators who felt contempt towards the world they were living in.

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