The University of Arizona

Dress, Class, and Caricature in Late Eighteenth Century England

Bella Grace Ruhl


In this paper I analyze a sample of satirical prints from later eighteenth century London, identifying the ways in which class distinctions were addressed through depictions of dress. I argue that these images were an uneasy response to the destablizing effects of industrialization on sartorial literacy.

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Bowles, John. “Heyday! Is this my Daughter Anne!,” 1773. Satirical print, 357mm x 254mm. The British Museum, London.

Bowles, John. “What is this my son Tom,” 1774, in Social Caricature in the Eighteenth Century by George Paston. London: Methuen & Co., 1905.

Dawe, Phillip. “The Butcher’s Wife dressing for the Pantheon,” 1772. Satirical print, 354mm x 250mm. The British Museum, London.

Gillray, James. “Farmer Giles and his Wife shewing off their daughter Betty to their Neighbours, on her return from School,” 1809. Print. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Hogarth, William. “The Contract,” from Marriage a la Mode, 1745. Print, 381mm x 314mm. Mead Art Museum, Amherst.

Humphrey, William. “Betty the cook maid’s head drest,” 1776. Satirical print, 330mm x 232mm. The British Museum, London.

Humphrey, William. “The farmer's daughter's return from London,” 1777. Satirical print, 353mm x 250mm. The British Museum, London.


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