Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures


The ubiquitous Punch (England, 1880)

  • Object type: Painting
  • Formal Title: The Meshes of the Law (Punch's Punch)
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: circa 1880
  • Origin: Punch Magazine, London
  • Current Location: Punch Magazine, London

It was a mark of a great barrister or judge to have been the butt of a cartoon in Punch Magazine. Established in 1841, the cartoonists of Punch quickly found that the courts offered the best raw material for its satire.

This remarkable and representative piece, from amongst thousands of Punch cartoons which satire the law, justice or a jurist, shows the goings-on of a magistrate's court. The old bespectacled magistrate, sporting mutton chop sideburns, leans forward over the hubbub of his court to listen to an accused give his defence.

England, like many countries in the Victoria era, aggressively prosecuted loitering and vagrancy. Punch saw the futility of this and splashes it across this pencil drawing, although, in the result, the accused was "discharged with a caution".

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