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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.26 Christmas card caricature, monkeys

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Sem’s Christmas card with a caricature of Darwin was not the only thing of its kind. A sale catalogue of 2009, Charles Robert Darwin . . . One Hundred and Two Items, included the front leaf of a greetings card inscribed in capitals ‘The toast of the evening/ Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas’. It shows a fancily dressed group of monkeys round the festive table, one already lying drunk on the carpet; the monkey-waiter gives a look of knowing disapproval. A monkey in a kilt teeters on his chair at the head of the table, proposing a toast to Darwin, whose portrait (probably adapted from one of Elliott and Fry’s photographs) hangs on the wall to the right. On the left, balancing the portrait of Darwin, is one of a venerable monkey-ancestor.

  • physical location unknown 

  • accession or collection number unknown 

  • copyright holder unknown 

  • originator of image unknown 

  • date of creation unknown, probably 1870s 

  • medium and material chromolithograph, heightened with gold; ‘removed from an album with traces of the underlying leaf on the verso’ 

  • references and bibliography sale catalogue, Charles Robert Darwin . . . One Hundred and Two Items: Scientists  Pedants – Bigots – Crooks – Lunatics:, 2009, lot 10. Online at, accessed April 2020. J. van Wyhe, ‘Iconography’, p. 189, suggesting ‘1890s?’ 

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