Hidden Faces

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Hidden Faces

2015-01-07 12:53


As we’ve worked to select approximately 500 political cartoons as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Historic Images, New Technologies project, we’ve come across several clever cartoons by Joseph Keppler. Keppler (1838-1894) was a cartoonist and publisher for the humor magazine Puck.

In “Let us have Peace, Now a President's Elected," Keppler created a puzzle by hiding the faces of approximately twelve politicians in the lake, rocks, hills and trees. Can you spot the outline of President James A. Garfield’s face in the rocks of the large hill, or the upside down image of Ulysses S. Grant near the trunk of the tree behind Lady Democrat?

Let us have Peace, Now a President's Elected, 1880, Historical Society of Pennsylvania cartoons & caricatures

Keppler satirizes greed, corruption, and bribery in “The Deadly Upas Tree of Wall Street." Bribes for Congress, editors, and the lawyers hang from the branches of the large tree. At the trunk of the large tree lie the bodies of Ulysses S. Grant, Whitelaw Reed, and several stockholders. Look closely at the space created by the two limbs of the tree. Can you see the image of Jay Gould?

The Deadly Upas Tree of Wall Street, 1882, Historical Society of Pennsylvania cartoons & caricatures

During the 1884 Presidential nominating conventions, both Republicans and Democrats had a long list of candidates from which to select their nominees. In “An Unpleasant Ride through the Presidential Haunted Forest” Keppler hid the faces of a number of candidates including Chester Arthur and James Blaine. We found twenty-one faces hidden in the landscape. How many faces can you spot?

An Unpleasant Ride through the Presidential Haunted Forest, 1884, Historical Society of Pennsylvania cartoons & caricatures

As you can see, there’s more to Keppler’s cartoons than meets the eye! As we continue researching the 500 political cartoons, we hope to identify more of Keppler's hidden faces.


Submitted by Barry Chapman (not verified) on

I refer to to Richardson, E. P. (1973). The Birth of Political Caricature, pp.71-90 in R.F. Looney (Ed)Philadelphia Printmaking: American prints before 1860.West Chester Pennsylvania: The Tinicum Press. According to Richardson, pp 77
- 80, three 1764 prints by my 6th grandfather, James Claypoole Jr., ca. 1743 - 1822, placed him in the 1st rank of Pennsylvania's early political caricaturists.

I'd be most interested to find out if his work is included amongst the 500 political cartoons you have chosen as part of the 'Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Historic Images, New Technologies project'.

Best wishes,

Barry Chapman

Submitted by rmoloshok@hsp.org on

Thank you for your interest in our project! We will be featuring several early cartoons that E. P. Richardson has attributed to James Claypoole, under the reasoning that Claypoole was the only early American engraver with the skills and training to procude these images; however, it should be noted that other historians we have consulted have also used the same reasoning to attribute these cartoons to other artists, such as Henry Dawkins. Among the cartoons Claypoole may have created are the following images, which have already been digitized and are available in HSP's Digital Library (digitallibrary.hsp.org): an untitled cartoon featuring Benjamin Franklin and various Quakers (Digital Library record #1478);"The German Bleeds and Bears ye Furs" (#654); and "An Indian Squaw King Wampum Spies" (#1952).

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