Patsy Payne meets Ian Keable, an expert on Victorian satirical art, who is the speaker for our June monthly meeting
It was while delving into the intriguing world of magic and historical hoaxes that professional magician Ian Keable stumbled on the work of political cartoonist James Gillray.
If his name isn’t immediately familiar, you will certainly know his works. James Gillray was the natural successor to Hogarth but differed in concentrating on political, as opposed to social, satire. His uncompromising and fearless caricaturing of politicians and the Royal Family introduced a new level of vitriol that made Hogarth seem tame by comparison.
Combined with Gillray’s brilliant draughtsmanship and engraving skills was a love of modern and classical art and literature, which he seamlessly wove into the subject matter of his prints.
Although his reputation plummeted during the Victorian climate of moralistic righteousness, Gillray is now generally accepted as the first, and the greatest, political caricaturist – an influence even today on the likes of Gerald Scarfe, Steve Bell and the television programme Spitting Image.
Ian Keable brings to Dorking U3A’s monthly meeting on 8 June a fascinating – albeit tragic – story of the much-vaunted Gillray, accompanied by examples of the artist’s incredibly detailed hard-hitting prints of 18th-century politicians and the Royal Family. The promise is that having seen these brilliant illustrations and caricatures we will never again look at a cartoon in the same way.
With his background as a professional magician, Ian’s talks stand out for being not only informative but also extremely entertaining. He is an accredited Nadfas lecturer and has also given talks to other societies including Rotary and Probus as well as private and commercial gatherings.