Painters, Beware! A Fact

Painters, Beware! A Fact. Matt Morgan. Signed lower left. Fun (9 July 1864): 168. Courtesy of the Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection in the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Click on image to enlarge it.

This is Captain Johnas (late of the Old Clo’ Brigade) who is always going about to fellows’ studios, and annoying them thus: —”

Captain Old Clo’: — “Yes, there’s thirty-two of my Vols. I’m the author of a ‘Hundred Lectures’ on Greek Philosophy. Do you know much about it? Read’em — do you good — just run your eye through ’em first, and then read ’em carefully. I will only cost you two pund [sic] two; cheap for a favourable notice of that picture of your’n ain’t it? Don’t think you’s like ’em! Ah! good many faults in that picture you’re at. You wouldn’t like ’em pointed out to the public, would you, eh? I'll call in a couple of days for the two pund two. Good mornin’!”

The main point of this bitter cartoon — that some critics supposedly demanded bribes for positive reviews — is clear, but some puzzling details make it difficult to tell at whom it is aimed. That the critic is “late of the Old Clo’ Brigade” seems to indicate both that the would-be blackmailer was formerly a dealer in old clothes, a rag and bone merchant with a push-cart, and these were often Jews. But the fact that he’s published 32 volumes suggests the cartoon is aimed at a well-known author, say, John Ruskin, but Ruskin doesn’t fit the bill here in part because by the 1860s, he had concluded Modern Painters and was known, or notorious, for his writings on political economy; furthermore, he didn't publish his commentaries on Greek mythology and sculpture until after this cartoon appeared. — George P. Landow

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Florida library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. — George P. Landow]

Last modified 29 April 2016