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Harry Furniss: Parnell Caricature

The Irish Question dominated politics in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Despite the divisive nature of the situation Punch Magazine still felt it was ripe for satirical pickings. Though born in Ireland, Furniss's cartoons never cast opinion on such matters. Thus his illustrations regarding Home Rule tried somewhat to avoid the subject and focus on the spokesman, that being Irish Nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891). Parnell was cannon fodder for the satirist as he displayed an oratorical style that was pugnacious with a private life that bordered on salacious. The Irish were not depicted favorably in magazines such as Punch though Furniss's drawings of Parnell and his fellow Home Rulers were more reserved than some of his other Parliamentary illustrations. Even in death, Parnell would continue to divide opinion. A great example of this is to be found in James Joyce's novel 'A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man' where his lead character, Stephen Dedalus identify greatly with the patriotism of Parnell which had been scorned by a great majority of his fellow countrymen.