Caricature: The Pleasures of the Rail-Road. Caught in the Rail-way! Henry Heath.

Caricature: The Pleasures of the Rail-Road. Caught in the Rail-way!

London: S. Gans, Southampton Street, 1831. Original hand color copper plate engraving, a caricature of the mayhem supposedly introduced by the world's first intercity railway, depicting the runaway 'Northumbrian' locomotive (the Liverpool and Manchester Railway locomotive based on the "Rocket") scattering terrified men, women and children in its path. A fallen man lies underneath the locomotive, and ladies in billowing gowns race to escape. Signed "H H" at the lower right.

The Liverpool and Manchester line made an important connection for Manchester and its textile works with the sea port of Liverpool. This was the beginning of the great age of the railway, which introduced vast societal change to Britain, stimulating the economy by reducing transport times, lowering costs, and consuming raw materials. But the railway also intruded into the rural regions of Britain, upsetting a previously quiet pace of life.

The British Museum holds some 250 caricatures by Henry Heath (active 1822-1842) on a wide range of contemporary topics, from politics, class differences, food, married life, and sports ('Heath's Oddities', a series of caricatures of sportsmen). Henry and his brother William were competitors of George Cruikshank; they pioneered the foundation for Victorian caricature which in time became the political cartoon and ultimately the comic strip.

14 x 9 3/4". The number of the print at top left, No. 1, flipped to mirror image. Not recorded at the British Museum, which records holding the second in this series, entitled "The pleasures of the rail-road, showing the inconvenience of a blow-up". BM 1994,0515.17. With a mat burn line just outside the impression mark, some light sunning and mat burning at edges. Good + condition. Item #23123


See all items by