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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.57 silhouette cartoon

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A strange double silhouette caricature found its way into the Darwin family collection in the 1930s. Darwin’s outsize caricatured head is attached to the body of a monkey with a long tail, which has a demonic appearance. He appears to be holding up a mirror to himself, as in the Figaro cartoon by Faustin, and a long feather is tucked behind his ear, perhaps intended to represent a quill pen. Although the two figures look like mirror images, as though a stencil has simply been reversed, they are in fact not identical.  

There is no reliable information as to the authorship or purpose of the image. The back of the sheet is inscribed ‘A Contemporary Silhouette of C. Darwin’, and, in a different hand: ‘Possibly by Albert Bryan. Obtained by E. Kersley [a dealer] among a collection of the period. G.L. Keynes Dec. 1937’. This was Geoffrey Keynes, who had married Margaret Elizabeth Darwin, Darwin’s granddaughter. His reference to ‘Albert Bryan’ may be a mistaken reference to the professional caricaturist Alfred Bryan, but no images by him similar to this one are known to the present author. 

  • physical location Darwin archive, Cambridge University Library 

  • accession or collection number DAR 225.180 

  • copyright holder Syndics of Cambridge University Library 

  • originator of image unknown 

  • date of creation unknown 

  • medium and material either black ink drawing or woodcut 


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