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The term "caricature" is taken from the Italian word "caricare", that means "to lead". Hogarth, the eighteenth century English artist, was extremely fond of painting caricatures in that a particular feature of the face would be slightly exaggerated, but not so exaggerated as to not bear a resemblance to the model posing for the painting. Annibale Carraci also drew pictures that are caricatures in about 1600; he drew a comparison between caricatures and classicism, believing that caricatures showed the truth of the facial characteristics.

The artist P.L. Ghezzi, who lived between 1674 and 1755, is considered the first artist to make a living from caricature portraits. Bernini, Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo are three other artists who drew caricatures. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the English portraitist who lived between 1723 and 1792, began doing caricatures of English tourists who visited Rome, but gave up the practice because he believed that it might damage his reputation as a traditional portrait painter. Other artists, including Rowlandson, Gillray and Daumier, all used caricatures in political drawings; the painting done by Daumier of Louis Philippe that portrayed Philippe as a pear is one of the most famous caricatures. How the cartoon began to be linked with caricatures is not known; however, 1863 is given by the "Oxford English Dictionary" as the earliest date that the two were linked.

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