George Woodward Archive

George Woodward

The artist George Murgatroyd Woodward was born in around 1765, and grew up in the Derbyshire village of Stanton by Dale.


He spent a number of years working for Earl Stanhope of Chevening, before resigning his position in 1791 in order to embark on a career as a caricaturist. He died in 1809 at the Brown Bear Tavern in Covent Garden.

Woodward's artistic talents were apparently evident at a young age, according to his father "he used to draw before he could speak plain".

The Woodward collection includes his earliest known drawings, a series of pen and ink sketches produced when still in his teens, as well as a series of portraits of actors in Shakespearean roles from between 1782 and 1787. Depictions of the earliest balloon flights in England are also included as are a number of preparatory drawings for his published caricatures.

The collection consists of 494 items, of which 276 are prints, 169 are drawings, 2 are pen and ink sketches and 47 are pencil drawings. Of the 276 prints, 56 are by artists other than Woodward.

There is reason to believe that the archive contains one or more editions of Tegg's 'Caricature Magazine', to which Woodward contributed work. This would explain the large number of prints by other artists, and why a number of the prints by Woodward are reissues, published after his death.

During his brief career Woodward collaborated with some of the best known caricaturists of the day in order to produce his prints, and the collection includes examples of work produced in conjunction with Thomas Rowlandson, Isaac Cruikshank and Thomas Newton.  

Woodward was more interested in the humour to be found in everyday life than in high politics and his caricatures provide a fascinating insight into the tastes and fashions of 18th century England.

Full descriptions of the items in the Woodward collection can be found in the online catalogue (opens in a new window). All items in the collection have been digitized, and postcards of some items can be purchased. Please contact us for more information.

As well as an artist, Woodward was also a writer, and he wrote and illustrated a number of humorous works (opens in a new window), several of which are also held here at the Derbyshire Record Office (D6052).