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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.49 Alfred Bryan, caricature

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Among the portrayals of Darwin reproduced in Bridgeman Images is a caricature titled Natural History Repeating Itself, from an unnamed private collection. It is initialled by ‘A.B.’, i.e. Alfred Bryan, who worked as an illustrator and cartoonist in London from the mid-1870s to his death in 1899, employed by Entr’acte, Judy and many other publications. The joke once again hinges on Darwin’s supposedly simian appearance, with a tail protruding below his coat; features evident in photographs of him, such as the shaggy eyebrows and long rising forehead are effectively caricatured. The monkey joke suggests a date in the late 1870s or c.1880-1, and it is difficult to imagine its being published in the years immediately after Darwin’s death in 1882. However, uncertainty as to the medium (lithography or photographic process?) and a lack of evidence about where it was published make dating difficult. Stylistically it shows the freer style of draughtsmanship which characterised cartoons in the last three decades of the century, for example in the work of Harry Furniss, with whose caricature of Darwin this may be compared. 

  • physical location unknown private collection 

  • accession or collection number Bridgeman Images LLM6014896 

  • copyright holder via Bridgeman Images 

  • originator of image Alfred Bryan 

  • date of creation unknown 

  • medium and material unknown; lithography or photographic process printing from a pen and ink drawing 

  • references and bibliography Interview with Bryan in ‘How caricaturists catch their subjects’, Tit-Bits (23 Nov. 1889). National Portrait Gallery, online catalogue of cartoons by Bryan. 


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