The Characteristic Mirror

Dublin Core


The Characteristic Mirror


George Murgatroyd (Moutard) Woodward




c. 1800

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Brief Notes on Book

Illustrated Title Page, seven original watercolors, and twelve pages of hand-written text.


“The Characteristic Mirror” is an unpublished manuscript, written by the Georgian caricaturist and poet, George Woodward (1765-1809). Seven satirical watercolors illustrate the text: “Satire conducted by Good Humour to the Palace of Cheerfulness,” “Universal Consternation,” “Sundry Characters explain’d in the Dissertation upon Wigs,” “Country Justiceship” (2 plates), “The Razor Grinder,” and “The Pilgrims and the Peas.”

While Woodward’s role in the London caricature trade has faded over time, his name was more recognizable during the long eighteenth century than that of the artist/engravers who etched his many designs, including Cruikshank and Rowlandson. The illustrations in this work were characterized by Maggs Bros. (in 1823 and 1828) as “remarkably fine” and “probably the finest he [Woodward] has made.” And, Parke-Bernet Galleries, in 1941, offering the Collection of William Woodin, Secretary of the Treasury under President Roosevelt, similarly described them as “Superb Watercolors.”

During the 40 years I have collected Georgian caricature and color-plate books, I have been fortunate to acquire for my Library many important works, including, just by way of example, the only surviving set of the first 16 issues of Tegg’s Caricature Magazine in original wrappers, McLean’s rare 1829 publication of Gillray’s Genuine Works, some 100 original Woodward sketches and watercolors, and thousands of individual satires. But, as I have written before: “In any collection, there is one item which, in case of disaster, one would seek to rescue right after scooping up the children and the dog. In my case, . . . it is 'The Characteristic Mirror.'"


William A. Gordon


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George Murgatroyd (Moutard) Woodward, “The Characteristic Mirror,” Caxton Club Exhibits, accessed September 23, 2023,