Our free exhibition of political cartoons inspired by Shakespeare is coming to the Barbican Centre, London, as part of our Rome MMXVII Season.

3 November 2017 - 20 January 2018

Mezzanine floor - Barbican Centre



Shakespeare’s plays have long shaped the way we understand and engage with politics and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the works of political cartoonists. This free exhibition celebrates political cartoons inspired by Shakespeare and coincides with our Rome MMXVII Season in London.

Ann Telnaes Commission
Ann Telnaes' cartoon depicts US President Donald Trump as Shakespeare’s Cleopatra.
Anne Telnaes © RSC Browse and license our images

Shakespeare’s plays – both plots and characters – have been a touchstone for cartoonists who have drawn upon them to comment upon the political events and personalities of their time. The plays’ capacity to reflect human behaviour continues to provide cartoonists with a ready stock of rich imagery that resonates with the reading public.

The exhibition includes new commissions by five cartoonists:

  • Steve Bell one of the Guardian’s chief cartoonists, where he has been producing cartoons since 1981. He has won numerous awards, including the Political Cartoon Society Cartoonist of the Year (2005, 2007), and the Channel 4 Political Humour Award (2005). Steve's piece can now be seen below and in the exhibition.
  • Christian Adams a political cartoonist at the Daily Telegraph, for which he has worked since 2005. He previously worked at the London Evening Standard from 1994 to 2002. Christian's piece can now be seen below and in the exhibition.
  • Ann Telnaes a political cartoonist at the Washington Post. In 2001 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her work. A solo exhibition of her cartoons appeared at the Library of Congress in 2004.
  • Victor Ndula a political cartoonist for the Kenyan national newspaper the Star. In 2012 he won first prize in the United Nations/Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards.
  • Lorna Miller a political cartoonist whose work has appeared in Private Eye and the Morning Star. Lorna has been nominated for the 2016 Political Cartoon of the Year Award.

Each has created a cartoon that comments upon current politics through the lens of four Roman Plays - Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. 

The exhibition is curated in partnership with David Francis Taylor, Associate Professor of English at the University of Warwick.