High Spirits by Kate Heard

I got High Spirits by Kate Heard – The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson from Buckingham Palace, when I visited it in January. In that occasion I also got George IV by the same author.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh said that ‘There are, of course, two sides to the art of caricatures – the caricaturist and the subjects of his work. The latter, of which I am one, certainly need a sense of humour in order to enjoy a caricature of themselves. They need to be masochists to collect cartoons about themselves.’

High Spirits by Kate Heard

There are over 100 caricatures in the book, all with detailed explanations, and most of them by the English caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1757–1827). Some are political in nature, some deal with everyday life. I can’t say that I like caricatures, as a genre. I think it is very easy to mock, especially when it comes to politics, but that only infantilizes the discussion. Unsurprisingly I had the same feeling when it came to Georgian caricatures.

Considering the current debates on race and views on gender roles, a few of the caricatures are not exactly PC, especially the misogynistic ones. But I’m glad that those were included because it shows how people at that time thought. Personally I’m not bothered at all by what was considered acceptable 200 years ago. I just only hope that in the next 200 years people’s tolerance will develop as much as it did in the last couple of centuries.

Overall it is an interesting book and I’ve enjoyed it, hence the 5 stars.

High Spirits by Kate Heard

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Royal Collection Trust
Year it was published: 2013
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History
Pages: 256

About the author: Kate Heard is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Collection Trust.
Books by Kate Heard: High Spirits. The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson; George IV. Art & Spectacle; Maria Merian’s Butterflies.
Website & Social Media Links: –

4 thoughts on “High Spirits by Kate Heard”

  • I remember seeing an exhibition of Rowlandson’s caricatures in the Pavilion in Brighton, not sure if they’re on permanent display. I’d say most of them are non-PC, but obviously, reflect the tastes and manners of the times. It’s fascinating to see what was considered acceptable.

  • I really enjoyed your thoughts on this read. I love how literature can open up discussions on all kinds of topics. The book itself sounds promising, and something that might interest me if I saw it in a book shop. 🙂 xx


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