William Hogarth’s etching of John Wilkes Esq., created in 1763, captures the British radicalist politician – who was known to be an agitator – perched against a backdrop of symbols of freedom. This artwork was Hogarth’s response to John Wilkes’s criticisms through his newspaper, “The North Briton”. In this symbolic rendering, Wilkes takes pride in his rebelliousness, flashing a confident smirk and clad effigiously in the ‘Cap of Liberty’, as well as gripping the ‘Staff of Maintenance’, both representing strength and power. Every element contributes to the caricature form that was significant in the early stages of public caricature efforts.
Through his distinct style of satire-based artworks, William Hogart seamlessly conveyed themes of politics and social issues through illustrations. His work in caricatures invoked deep thought on political matters, captivating viewers long after its creation. Martin Johnson Heade’s 1862 painting Lake George is another iconic example that emphasizes elements such as religion and existence as real conceptual ideas within nature and beauty alike.