(b. 1756, London, d. 1815, London)


English draughtsman and engraver, one of the most eminent of English caricaturists. During his career he engraved over 1500 prints and invented, almost single-handed, the genre of British political caricature. In his lifetime he was feared and admired; his reputation waned in the strait-laced moral climate that succeeded the Regency.

He began his career as an engraver of letter-heads and although he later studied at the Royal Academy Schools, he seems to have been largely self-trained. After the publication of his print A New Way to Pay the National Debt (1786), a satire on the royal family, he found his bent in caricature and achieved enormous popularity. He enlarged the scope of Hogarth's satire, making his caricature more personal than Hogarth's general social comment, and he showed great fecundity and vividness of imagination. In 1831 the Athenaeum described him as a 'caterpillar on the green leaf of Reputation'. His career was cut short by insanity in 1811.