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'The Surgeons Petition or The Barbers Triumphant', print published London, England, 1797

In 1700s England, surgeons and barber-surgeons competed for business and clients. In 1745, surgeons separated from the Company of Barber-Surgeons to form their own company. In 1797, they petitioned Parliament to establish a College with the aim of raising their professional status, but were defeated mainly thanks to a speech by Lord Thurlow. This print shows the surgeons petitioning Lord Thurlow for the sole rights to perform surgical procedures. The bill is signed with names that have surgical associations, such as ‘Simon Slash’. The surgeons were attempting to raise their social status, which explains their dress. The artist of the print was George Moutard Woodward (c. 1760-1809), who specialised in caricatures.

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Glossary: comedy

a play, film, etc., of an amusing or satirical character, usually with a happy ending. The traditional theatrical genre can be simply described as a dramatic performance which pits two societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. However, in modern times the term has adopted a popular connotation associated with a variety of different media that proports to make others amused.

Glossary: print

Pictorial works produced by transferring images by means of a matrix such as a plate, block, or screen, using any of various printing processes. When emphasizing the individual printed image, use "impressions." Avoid the controversial expression "original prints," except in reference to discussions of the expression's use. If prints are neither "reproductive prints" nor "popular prints," use just "prints."

Glossary: satire

An artistic form where human actions and errors are mocked.