HB Beggar’s


“A Scene from the Beggar’s Opera.” 9 March 1831. George, 16605.

One of many political caricatures to use Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera” as a vehicle. The imagery is derived from Hogarth’s painting and print of the same title. In this scene McHeath is Wetherell between Peel on his right and Wellington on his left. In the background looking on is Russell to the left, and to the right are Althorp (with jailor’s keys) and Grey. Peel weeps on Wetherell’s shoulder, but the split between the two was never healed. Satire lithographed and designed by John Doyle (1797-1867). Folio. Thomas McLean, 1829-49. From his series Political Sketches. Each with a blind stamp indicating that it is a “subscriber’s copy.”

SKU: 30-1303 Categories: ,


By writing his initials twice-over, John Doyle manipulated the letters to create the pseudonym signature “HB”. Born in Catholic Dublin, HB arrived in London in 1821, after the death of James Gillray. Thomas Rowlandson had aged, as well, and with him the era of biting, pointed caricature in London. As HB began his career, he introduced a gentler sort of satire, making soft jokes calculated to avoid strong offence. Rather than exaggerating physical features and pushing the bawdy laugh, Doyle employed reasonable likenesses with circumstantial humor. Even the subtle, sketchy appearance of his lithography marked a change from the loose, brash lines of colored etchings, a medium that had dominated caricature printing for the previous half-century.