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‘A Collection of Hobgoblins’ by George M. Woodward, featuring ten grotesquely caricatured figures, 25 Feb 1796 (Ref: D5459/2/6)
George Murgatroyd Woodward was baptised in Hackney, London, in 1767, but grew up in Stanton by Dale, where his father, William, was land agent to Earl Stanhope of Chevening. William Woodward was required to travel frequently in the course of his work as he was also responsible for overseeing the Earl’s estates at Holsworthy in Devon, and Hoggeston in Buckinghamshire. Until 1787 the family also had a house in London, first at 115 High Holborn, then from 1783, at 30 Carey Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
As early as 1782 Woodward was helping his father with his work, carrying letters, and running errands. By 1787 he was working on the Earl’s estates in Buckinghamshire, overseeing the unsuccessful prospecting for coal. He resigned his position with Earl Stanhope in 1791, embarking on his career as caricaturist. He died on 5 November 1809 at the Brown Bear Tavern, Bow Street, Covent Garden.
Woodward’s artistic talents were apparently evident at a young age, according to his father ‘he used to draw before he could speak plain’. His earliest drawings are mostly humorous scenes of everyday life, and caricature portraits. Between 1782 and 1787 he drew a series of portraits of actors in Shakespearean roles, as well as a number of depictions of the earliest balloon flights.
Woodward’s first prints were published at the family’s London home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1785. By the time he resigned from his position with Earl Stanhope in 1791, he had already produced work for several London publishers, notably Holland and Fores.
Because he was untrained as an artist, Woodward always relied on other artists to transfer his designs on to copperplates for printing. In the 1790s he collaborated with the young artist Richard Newton on a number of prints for the publisher William Holland. There are no examples of that work in the collection, but there many examples of the work he did in conjunction with Thomas Rowlandson for the publisher Rudolph Ackermann. This work includes several humorous series such as the ‘Horse Accomplishments’ and ‘Journals’ and ‘Prayers’, and also a collection of decorative borders. From 1807 Woodward began producing designs for Tegg’s ‘Caricature Magazine’. The quality of these prints is far lower than that of those published by Ackermann, and the subject matter is often somewhat coarser. Woodward also collaborated frequently with Isaac Cruikshank, father of the famous Victorian caricaturist George Cruikshank.
The Woodward collection in the archives at DRO consists of 276 are prints, 169 drawings, 2 pen and ink sketches and 47 pencil drawings. Of the 276 prints, 56 are by artists other than Woodward. There is reason to believe that the archive contains one or more editions of Tegg’s ‘Caricature Magazine’, to which Woodward contributed work. This would explain the large number of prints by other artists, and why a number of the prints by Woodward are reissues, published after his death.
As well as an artist, Woodward was also a writer, and he wrote and illustrated a number of humorous works, several of which are also held here at the Derbyshire Record Office (D6052).
The full catalogue for the D5459 collection is available via the online archives catalogue and includes downloadable copies of the images too.