17.03.2021, 00:00 A.M.
The graphic satire of Georgian London has been much explored in recent scholarship. Almost entirely neglected, however, is its provincial counterpart. This talk addresses the implications of the absence of copyright law in nineteenth-century Ireland, by discussing examples of caricatures produced by Dublin publisher William McCleary. Until now commentators have been quick to argue that the absence of a vigilant copyright regime enabled rampant piracy, and that most engravers and publishers in Georgian Dublin, including McCleary, were doing little more than pirating the work of famous London satirists such as James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruickshank. This was both for internal consumption in Ireland and for export back to Britain to undercut the mainland market. Despite the fact that many such prints owe their compositions to pre-existing models, McCleary produced work that was is in several ways distinctive, and that he used his position on the periphery to dynamic and innovative effect. His work reflects the paradox at the core of much Irish art which Toby Barnard characterizes as “distinctive and derivative” whereby metropolitan models were given an Irish twist, or flavor.
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