Irish Georgian Satirical Print Monstrosities McCleary Cruikshank


Artist: William McCleary (fl.1799-1820)
Title: Monstrosities of 1810. Scene Merrion Square
Medium: Hand Coloured Engraving
Date: c1816

The following engraving is a fascinating and elaborate example of William McCleary’s commercial deceit. Dated “1810”, the print would appear to predate George Cruikshank’s first caricature in the “Monstrosities Series” by 6 years, suggesting that it was Cruikshank who stole the idea from McCleary.

The opposite is almost certainly the case. William McCleary (fl. 1799-1820) was a consummate plagiarist, who frequently copied the works of London cartoonists, such as Cruikshank, Gillray and Rowlandson, before selling them in Dublin as his own.

Though the following image is largely taken from Cruikshank’s ‘Monstrosities of 1816’, the lady with the elaborate bonnet has been lifted from ‘Monstrosities of 1818.’ The date of ‘1810’ is also curious: the stunted ‘o’ suggests that either a 6 or an 8 has been erased in the printing process. Possibly an accident, but more likely a handy way of concealing an obvious act of piracy. It also serves as an ingenious double-bluff, an earlier date to confound the less observant and an ‘accident’ that could be simply palmed-off as 1816 or 1818 to the more astute.

McCleary seems to have been based at 32 Nassau Street from 1808.

Inscription: “Pub. by McCleary 32 Nassau St.”
Size: 33.5 x 22.5cm