Samuel William Fores (1761-1838) was a printseller and publisher of satire and caricature who flourished from the late eighteenth through to the early nineteenth century, when revolt in France led to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. London was the centre of production of singly-issued satirical prints which were disseminated around the globe. It is a period considered a ‘golden age’ of caricature and satire, where the works of James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and Isaac and George Cruikshank took graphic satire to a new level. At the heart of all these images were the printsellers and publishers who commissioned, printed and distributed these images of political, social and personal satire.
Although there are numerous studies of the individual artists, there has not been a monograph of one of the producers, yet these were the figures who often pulled the strings and steers the course of satire and determined its content. It was also the printsellers who ran the business, played to the crowd and patrons, had their own political agendas and chose which artists to patronise. Of all the printsellers of this period, Samuel Fores was probably the most prolific and certainly his business has the greatest longevity, surviving to this day, adapting to the market for over two hundred years.
Through Fores, we are able to discover not only the mechanics of satire production, but its impact and use in this seminal period.Seeing from the perspective of the entrepreneur we see a more complete picture of graphic satire in its heyday.
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