masks and caricatures

North America


Historical Cartoons is about two- dimensional satirical images from antiquity until the end of the 19th century.

 Satirical images - realistic or distorted - are to be found all over the world in non-western and western-oriented cultures, the first mostly being much older.


In non-western cultures prevail three-dimensional forms such as theatrical masques, pottery, sculptures, carved and painted wood etc.

Not persons are represented but comical and satirical types with a ritualistic or mythological meaning. Mostly with the function of communicating with ancestors or magical protection against evil spirits.

In the western-oriented cultures developed out of those primary forms cartoons, comics and caricatures with distortion and manipulation of the features of a known person.

In this site, the accent lies on those western forms, because of the overwhelming richness and diversity of the non-western forms.


The first caricatures in Europe were made by famous artists as an artistic play without a political and social critical meaning and only known to friends and colleagues.

In the 17th and 18th centuries prevailed social satirical publications by woodcut, etching, engravings and paintings.

In the 19th century originated by means of lithography and publication in newspapers the greatest impact on the lettered public.

Cartoonists and caricaturists can be anonymous, amateurs or professionals.

The satirical themes of cartoons and caricatures can be religious, political, social, and their publication can be out of protestation and propaganda, in educational, historical and journalistic fields.

HISTORICAL CARTOONS presents a New Survey of Cartoons & Comics from different Countries & Continents. The selection runs from 1400 until 1925. The Visual Artists are presented in Chronological Order after their year of birth.

HISTORICAL CARTOONS uses the following contrasts as background for further elaboration:


*Masks <---------------------------------------->   *Caricatures

Abstract + Naturalistic < ---------------------->      Naturalistic

Stone and Wood- Carving   <------------> Printmaking

Comic Types <------------------------------>          Portrait- Caricatures

Mythology <------------------------------------>       History

Original   <----------------------------------->          Derived

Ancient    < ------------------------------------->      Recent

Universal  < ------------------------------->            Local

Pre-Historic   <------------------------------>       Historic

Oral      < ----------------------------------------->    Written

*Masks can have caricatural features but are not to been seen as caricatures. The meaning of masks has many dimensions and functions ( ritual, dance etc). Caricatures are one-dimensional and function merely for satirical purposes.  


Out of the comments on the website can be concluded that the contrast between Masks and Caricatures - in general - was positively valued, but needs further elaboration, especially regarding the meaning and context of the Masks and other 3- dimensional objects.

There are also instances in this site of famous painters (e.g. Titian, Rembrandt, Bernini, David, Delacroix, Klee) who made occasionally satirical images. This subject is elaborated in the site "Artist & Caricature".