For hundreds of years cartoonists have been the bedrock of free speech in a democratic society, questioning authority and satirising popular figures of the day. As well as making us laugh, they have also drawn our attention to corruption and ineptitude amongst the ruling elite.
It was during the First World War of 1914-1918 that cartoons were used in a new and important way, debunking and ridiculing the threat that Germany then posed. Maintaining morale in Blighty was vital to the war effort and poking fun at the Kaiser and his war machine did much to reduce Britons’ fear of the enemy and helped the nation believe it would, with its allies, ultimately win the war.
Sir Bernard Partridge and Captain Bruce Bairnsfather produced memorable work. Bairnsfather's 'Old Bill' character did much to keep up the spirit of the British Tommy in the trenches as well as morale at home in England. Dutch artist Louis Raemaekers savage anti German cartoons so disconcerted Germany that they put a bounty on his head and he was forced to seek safety in England. Such is the power of the pen over the sword!
So, welcome to our constantly evolving online cartoon exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of WW1 and a tribute to the artists and their work. Please enter Gallery 1 here.
The Centenary Exhibition is not just about "famous" cartoonists of the period. We want to source material and cartoons that have been locked away in attics too - "amateur" cartoons that were drawn at the front, or whilst on leave. Every cartoon has a tale and a history. Click here to read more.