Three examples from the golden age of political caricature featuring Henry Dundas, the first Viscount Melville….
This one satirises the five-strong Commission of Naval Enquiry quizzing Dundas and the Navy paymaster Alexander Trotter (the guys in kilts).
The Commission’s dogged persistence revealed an enormous casino banking scandal and endemic corruption in the Navy overseen by Dundas. This was 200 years ago but some may see contemporary overtones in denials and attempts to thwart their work, undue Scottish influence in Westminster, and er…. the stench of banking corruption.
For a fuller account, see my piece in Public Finance magazine.
It is attributed to Samuel William Fores. Another active artist was Edinburgh-born Isaac Cruikshank who worked for most of his life in London. He drew acaricature of Dundas in 1805:
The third one is by of James Gilray, the foremost political cartoonist of his generation. His earlier portrayal from 1788 shows Dundas at his empire building zenith at the East India Company straddling two continents.
There is no doubt that the power of the media then through caricature through Cruikshank, Fores and Gilray shaped public opinion and assisted in the ultimate disgrace of Dundas, although he still stands as the tallest statue in Edinburgh.
The National Portrait Gallery’s extensive Gilray collection
The National Maritime Museum has a splendid array of fine art and other Naval exhibits.
History of Parliament profile of Dundas