The Rothschilds in Caricature

This paper is concerned with the five sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, of Frankfort (1744-1812), and their descendants. The third son, Nathan Mayer (1777-1836), founder of the English house, was the first member of the family to attract the caricaturist’s attention with the appearance in 1817 of Richard Dighton’s ‘A View from the Royal Exchange’ (No. 1), republished in 1824 in an album entitled City Characters. It is typical of Dighton’s work, a rather flattering portrait with the merest suggestion of caricature, the kind of portrait which brought him many private commissions like the Rothschild wedding group of 18301 and the portrait of Lionel Rothschild (No. 24).

For other caricaturists Nathan was a delight with his squat, heavy figure, his coarse features, and his curious ill-fitting clothes, invariably black in colour, which retained the influence of the Frankfort ghetto. They also poked fun at his peculiar English. The caricaturist’s portrait

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