King's College London
Online Exhibitions
The Cartoon in Wartime Propaganda

1854 - 1914

'War's result: Chinese slavery', 1906'War's result: Chinese slavery', 1906The Crimean War, 1854-1856, and the Second Boer War, 1899-1901, featured extensive use of cartoons and visual propaganda.

Crimean-related cartoons sought to highlight the danger of Russian expansionism and Britain's role in its containment by showing a large and menacing bear threatening its neighbours.

French view of Boer concentration campsFrench view of Boer concentration campsThe Boer War was one of the first truly modern wars in its reporting in the media - film newsreels, photography and the engagement of the Army with the popular press.

Boer War art was often ambivalent, reflecting its complex politics - a mix of popular nationalism during episodes such as the Relief of the Siege of Mafeking in 1900, and anti-war sentiment that accompanied potentially damaging revelations such as reports of conditions in concentration camps set up by the British for Boer civilians.

Queen Victoria in hellQueen Victoria in hellPost-war public outrage was also directed at the working and living conditions of Chinese labourers, or coolies, employed by the British in the mines. The so-called Chinese slavery issue featured prominently in the January 1906 General Election campaign.

German, French and other continental artists were quick to exploit the war for propaganda purposes - reflecting its unpopularity with Britain's European neighbours, and depicting her in equal measure as a bully, or conversely depicting the vulnerability of the superpower in the face of often-successful guerrilla tactics.

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