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Print - Irish Affairs - The Absentee
  • Irish Affairs - The Absentee
    Robert Seymour, born 1798 - died 1836
  • Enlarge image

Irish Affairs - The Absentee

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (printed)

  • Date:

    1830 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robert Seymour, born 1798 - died 1836 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case 93, shelf A, box 115

This caricature is from a satirical journal The Looking Glass or Caricature Annual, which was issued monthly between January 1830 and December 1832.
The artist Robert Seymour (1798?-1836) was a popular and prolific illustrator and satirical cartoonist. His political caricatures were published in several London periodicals. This scene is one of a series referring to the Irish political situation. It shows a wealthy landowner – probably a member of the English or Anglo-Irish aristocracy – being haunted by a ghostly vision of his tenants, who have starved to death while he enjoys all the luxuries of life. Many such landlords were absentees who did not live on their Irish estates, or were infrequent visitors. They neglected and exploited the tenant farmers, and charged exorbitant rents; this often resulted in poverty and starvation for their tenants, a situation which worsened in the 1830s and 1840s, and culminated in the Great Irish Famine of 1845-50.

Seymour went on to supply comic illustrations to stories by Charles Dickens. However, he was sensitive about his status as an artist, and was upset when Dickens, 12 years his junior and not yet an established writer, criticised his drawings and issued him with instructions for revising and improving them. Humiliated and frustrated by this situation, he committed suicide on 20 April 1836.

Physical description

Lithograph print, 'Irish Affairs - The Absentee'.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (printed)


1830 (printed)


Robert Seymour, born 1798 - died 1836 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph on paper


Height: 406 mm volume, Width: 280 mm volume

Descriptive line

Lithograph print, 'Irish Affairs - The Absentee', Robert Seymour, UK, 1830

Subjects depicted

Wealth; Poverty; Interiors


Prints; Caricatures & Cartoons; Politics


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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