Hundred-year-old Advice for Teaching Caricature Drawing

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, November 21, 1914: <<no entry>>

Caricature 3a
Source: School Arts Magazine (December, 1914)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I thought that you might enjoy some pictures and quotes from an article about how to draw caricatures that appeared in a hundred-year-old magazine for art teachers.

Caricature will furnish a legitimate outlet for the energy that creates disorder in the school. The study of humorous drawing develops the ability to make jokes. The teaching of caricature does not necessarily result directly in successful jokes in the classroom; it bears its best fruit in the increased skill and appreciation of the pupils. In this respect the teaching of caricature does not differ from any other lesson.

Source: School Arts Magazine (December, 1914)Youthful caricaturists need to be taught that kindness should be their guide in making a selection of the qualities which they exaggerate,  and that the best sense of humor is that which we call good humor.

Clever boys especially are inclined to be cruel in their attempts at jokes; they need training to see that deformity, ignorance, and misfortune are pitiful rather than funny, that a joke must be considered from the point of view of the person joked as well as from that of the joker, that the greatest of strength lies in its gentleness.

Teach a child what is really funny and he will scorn to perpetrate, or even to tolerate, laughter at what is not. So through, the study of humor the teacher can make his worst enemy serve as his best friend.

School Arts Magazine (December, 1914)

13 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Advice for Teaching Caricature Drawing

  1. In other words — sticks and stones may break my bones, but a good charicature will drain off all that negative energy! In some ways the article seems naive beyond belief, but then again — in this age where cynicism, snark and the shocking seem the definition of humor, maybe a little good humor wouldn’t hurt.

    Now I’m wondering why the Good Humor man (the ice cream vendor) was given that name.

    1. It somehow suggests simpler times. I probably look at the world through rose-colored glasses, but somehow I can almost picture a young teacher in a one-room schoolhouse successfully helping students learn how to be nicer to each other by teaching caricature drawing. 🙂

      You’ve also got me wondering now about the originals of the good humor man.

  2. This is very interesting to read. I have never tried to draw a caricature but now it sounds like a fun challenge.

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