THE MODERN ARGONAUTS (Cartoon)
OLIVER HERFORD (1863-1935) was an American artist and illustrator who contributed cartoons to the likes of Life and Ladies' Home Journal among other publications. The following cartoon from the Library of Congress was first published in Life on March 11, 1886. The cartoon uses the motif of the Argonauts' voyage to Colchis to comment on a copyright infringement dispute between the U.S. and Britain.
CAPTION FROM LIBRARY OF CONGRESS:
A crew of "modern argonauts" sails on a small, overcrowded ancient Greek vessel, sitting on bags of money. The sailors include: English writer Matthew Arnold; Anglican clergyman Canon Frederick William Farrar; Irish poet and dramatist, Oscar Wilde; English actor Sir Henry Irving; English dramatist and librettist William Schwenck Gilbert; British actress and beauty, Lillie Langtry.
Herford's cartoon is a parody on the Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts who sails to Colchis in quest of the Golden Fleece. The caption may refer to the growing concern over the uncontrolled copyright infringement in the U.S. of the work of foreigners without credit or just compensation. The commentary that accompanies the cartoon facetiously suggests that these "pillaged" foreigners had actually profited from their successes in the United States, fleecing the Americans in the process.