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Harry Furniss: The Bar of the House

The classic image of a Victorian politician would be that of the top-hatted entitled peer or the beard and whiskers of a self-made member. This was creative gold for the satirical fraternity whose comedic licence was able to flourish. Harry Furniss never really followed politics that meant his work possessed a certain ambiguity leaving no trace of party allegiance or social conscience. A celebrated man about town he encountered many of the leading political figures he caricatured at the clubs he frequented. This drawing ‘The Bar of the House' is not an acerbic comment on the social activities of your average Parliamentarian. Here, Furniss is taking aim at the egotistical jousting of the Westminster incumbents using a speech bubble to proclaim, ‘I would be the only bar in the House if I had my way'. Included in the rabble is Sir William Harcourt a high-profile liberal known for his intellectualism, which would have been a perfect storm for Furniss's scorn.