Thesis Title: ‘Political Caricatures of the Élite in France and Britain, c.1740-1800’
Supervisor: Dr Sarah Easterby-Smith
My undergraduate dissertation focussed on the satirical images of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, in the Saint-Aubin Livre de Caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises (Waddesdon Manor). The dissertation analysed the underlying socio-political factors behind contemporary aversion to Mme de Pompadour, specifically her political involvement, her gender, and her formerly low social status.
Continuing a focus on satirical images, my MA dissertation analysed caricatures of Louis XVI & Queen Marie-Antoinette, and George III & Queen Charlotte, c.1786-1794. The dissertation argued that these widely circulated satirical prints contributed to the demise of the monarchy during the French Revolution, whilst corresponding British images strengthened the popular opinion of the Hanoverian monarchy in Britain.
My thesis is a comparative examination of British and French caricatures produced between 1740 and 1800. The primary aim of the thesis is to ascertain how popular perceptions of the élite changed during the period surrounding the French Revolution. By analysing the content and symbolism of the satirical images, I argue that caricatures contained their own ‘language’ which enabled middling and lower-class citizens to engage in the political ‘public sphere’ in new ways.