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David Claypoole Johnston

Johnston's Political Prints



Johnston was heavily influenced by political events, and based many of his caricatures and lithographs on the current affairs of his time. The burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, MA on Aug. 11, 1834, was fueled by anti-catholic sentiment in New England. While living in Boston, Johnston converted to Catholicism. After the burning of the convent, he created this lithograph titled The Convent Committee, Better Known as the Smelling Committee, which poked fun at the legislators of the Know-Nothing Political Party. Click on each cartoon to enlarge.




Johnston put together the Convent Committee lithograph by creating several individual sketches. Here is the original transfer drawing for "Investigation of the Pig and Sty," first titled "Investigation of the Piggery."



In 1828, he began publishing the first of nine volumes of Scraps, which included caricatures that poked fun at events that interested him. In response to the events in Charlestown, he created a series of 11 caricatures in his Scraps for 1835, which were illustrations in defense of Catholicism. Click on each cartoon to enlarge.





Scraps was very well received by the public. One letter sent to Johnston states "The very interesting and amusing 'Scraps' which you were so kind as to send have caused me to laugh so heartily & so long that I have but just recovered steadiness of hand sufficient to write you a note of thanks for your attention. Pray accept my sincere tho' late acknowledgements & believe me." Click on letter to enlarge.


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