Chicago Nominee: "I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest...Where be your gibes now?–Hamlet, Act IV [sic], Scene 1"
Justin H. Howard (American, active 1856–80)
Probably published by Thomas W. Strong (New York)
William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Abraham Lincoln (American, Hardin County, Kentucky 1809–1865 Washington, D.C.)
General George B. McClellan (American, 1826-1885)
Sheet: 12 x 16 5/8 in. (30.5 x 42.2 cm)
Gift of Georgiana W. Sargent, in memory of John Osborne Sargent, 1924
Not on view
This biting satire relates to the 1864 American presidential campaign, waged during the Civil War. Democratic nominee General George McClellan is caricatured as Hamlet in the famous graveyard scene in act 5 of Shakespeare’s play. Instead of the skull of court jester Yorick, McClellan addresses the head of President Abraham Lincoln, his Republican opponent. Governor Horatio Seymour of New York is cast as Hamlet’s friend Horatio, and the grave digger is a famished Irish immigrant. The title alludes to false newspaper reports that Lincoln had acted with inappropriate levity while touring the battlefield at Antietam. The antipathy between the candidates is accurate. McClellan had openly called Lincoln a fool while commanding the Union armies. Shortly after the general failed to achieve a decisive victory at Antietam in September 1862, he declared himself a Democrat, indicating presidential ambitions, and Lincoln removed him from active duty.
Inscription: in stone: "Howard del."
Georgiana W. Sargent; Donor: Georgiana W. Sargent
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine," September 13, 2011–March 4, 2012.
B. Reilly, American Political Prints, Library of Congress, no. 1864-33, p. 539; F. Weitenkampf, Political Caricature in the United States, New York Public Library, 1953, p. 146.
Jennifer L. Gross The Lines Are Drawn: Political Cartoons of the Civil War. Kristen N. Smith, Hill Street Press, Athens, Georgia, 1999, p. 129, ill.
Harold Holzer, Gabor S. Boritt, Mark E. Neely Jr. The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print. 2001, 132-33.
Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel Die Shakespeare-Illustration (1594–2000). 3 vols., Wiesbaden and Mainz, 2003, vol. III, pp. 929, 1203, no. 2482, ill.
Nadine Orenstein, Constance C. McPhee Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine Exh. cat.: September 13, 2011 - March 4, 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven and London, 2011, Entry by Constance McPhee, cat. no. 145, p. 184, ill.