'An Aesthetic Midday Meal', a satirical cartoon from Punch


Drawn by George du Maurier for Punch magazine in 1880, 'An Aesthetic Midday Meal' satirises the aesthetic movement of the late 19th century. Aestheticism was guided by the principle of 'Art for art's sake' which disagreed with the notion that art and morality were connected. Instead, the ultimate pursuits in art – and in life – were beauty, sensation, and the elevation of taste.

In this cartoon, Jellaby Postlethwaite feasts his senses on the beauty of a lily rather than the food and drink from the restaurant he sits in. He – and by implication, aestheticism – is shown as utterly at odds to the world around him. Du Maurier further ridicules aestheticism by associating it with effeminacy; note the contrast between Jellaby's hands and posture with those of the conventionally masculine waiter. The ludicrously named Jellaby Postlethwaite was a favourite and recurring caricature in Punch, a poet who sometimes resembles Oscar Wilde and sometimes the artist Whistler.

Full title:
'An Aesthetic Midday Meal'
1880, London
Periodical / Illustration / Image
Punch, George Du Maurier
© Punch Ltd
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© Punch Ltd

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Punch Ltd

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