|Tuesday December 10, 2013||Bill Douglas Centre > Virtual Exhibitions|
Hand-coloured print: 'Experiments at Dover' or 'Master Charley's Magic Lantern'
Thomas Rowlandson, London, 1806
Rowlandson, the noted 18th and 19th century caricaturist, made several references to the magic lantern in political contexts. In this view, which unfortunately has some damage at the 'French coast' preventing the punchline of the visual joke being obvious, Charles James Fox (Foreign Secretary of the time) is shown giving John Bull (symbol of all that is English) a lantern show against the cliffs at Calais. The date places the reference in a brief interlude in the Anglo-French wars. Fox is trying to convince John Bull, through images, of the French "Preliminaries of Peace", while John Bull is suspicious of both Fox and the lantern itself: "I tell thee what Charley since thee hast become a great man - I think in my heart thee beest always conjuring." The lantern, like many visual technologies since, is clearly seen as an instrument not entirely to be trusted!
The Old Library, The University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, Devon, UK EX4 4SB
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