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The 8 Best Satires by James Gillray


Gillray is widely considered the ‘father of modern political cartoon’, following naturally on from Hogarth half a century earlier, who was the ‘grandfather’.

Working between 1780-1810, his surrealist imagery and biting wit made him the most successful satirist of his day, producing a quality of work yet to be surpassed.

He mocked political squabbles with scatological humour and burlesqued the haut monde with a striking ability for vengeance.

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His prints were chuckled at by Queen Charlotte during breakfast (until they became too vulgar), hoarded by the filthy minded Prince Regent (later George IV), feared by Napoleon (who claimed Gillray was more powerful than a dozen generals), and adored so much by the general public that fights broke out as new prints were displayed in Hannah Humphreys’ printshop window.

Gillray produced over 1,000 political and social satires. Here are eight of the best:

1. A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion (1792)

A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion (1792)

This etching by Gillray attacks the reckless indulgence of the Prince of Wales (later George IV), offering a nod to his nickname ‘The Prince of Whales’.

Dominated by his enormous bloated belly, which a single waistcoat button struggles to contain, his languid greed is revealed by decanters of port and brandy, the remains of a huge joint of meat, empty wine bottles rolling around under the table, and a coat of arms containing a knife and fork.

Behind the chair, an overflowing chamber pot pins up a host of unpaid bills. In the foreground, a dice-box offers a nod to his gambling addiction, and a medicinal bottle on the shelf is labelled ‘Drops for a Stinking Breath’.

2. Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis (1793)

Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis (1793)

‘Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis’ was published in April 1793, three months after the execution of the French King, Louis XVI, and two months after France declared war on Britain. In the print, the British Prime Minister, William Pitt, steers a boat representing the constitution.

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Carrying the precious cargo of Britannia, Pitt navigates between two maritime hazards of Homeric mythology, representing ‘the whirlpool of arbitrary power’ and ‘the rock of democracy’. Behind him, he is closely eyed by the deadly, anti-constitutional sharks of the Foxite opposition.

They head towards a gloomy island named the ‘Haven of Public Happiness’.

Gillray’s print reflected the British philosophical debates which dominated the 1790s, as the French Revolution played out across the channel. Gillray’s conclusion is that in times of uncertainty and polarisation a ‘middle way’ must save the constitution.

3. Uncorking Old Sherry (1805)

Uncorking Old Sherry (1805)

In ‘Uncorking Old Sherry’ Gillray imagines the House of Commons as a wine cellar, with the Prime Minister examining his supplies of opposition MPs.

From the bottle in Pitt’s hand explodes a plethora of words: ‘Bouncings’, ‘Growlings’, ‘Fibs! Fibs! Fibs’, ‘Abuse’, ‘Abuse’, ‘Damn’d Fibs’, ‘Invectives’, ‘Old Puns’, ‘Groans of Disappointment’, ‘Stolen Jests’, ‘Invectives’, ‘lame Puns’ – a dig at a recent speech by Sheridan, the chap looking furiously up at Pitt from inside the bottle.

Whilst Pitt, the Prime Minister, was aloof, antisocial and dull, the leader of the opposition could not have been more different. Charles James Fox, the ruddy face in the bottle labelled ‘True French Wine’, was a ruffian who womanised, drank to excess and often turned up to the Commons straight from a night of wild revelry.

4. The Plumb-pudding in danger – or – State Epicures taking un Petit Souper (1805)

The Plumb-pudding in danger – or – State Epicures taking un Petit Souper (1805)

This print is so often repeated it is more famous than Gillray himself. The modern cartoonist Martin Rowson described it as ‘probably the most famous political cartoon of all time … stolen over and over and over again by cartoonists ever since’. Thatcher, Cameron, May, Johnson and Trump have all been demonised through Gillray’s design.

In the print, Pitt and Napoleon are seated at a dining table, carving up a plum pudding representing a map of the world. Pitt wears a red regimental uniform of the British army, and his fork resembles a three-pronged trident, a reference to British naval strength.

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Napoleon, the ‘little corporal’, is smaller and stockier. He wears the blue coat of the Imperial French Army and the enormous plume in his hat makes mockery of his tiny stature.

Whilst Pitt takes a huge chunk of pudding marked ‘ocean’ and ‘West Indies’, Napoleon’s smaller portion contains most of Europe, including Hanover, the home of the British monarchs.

5. Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! (1804)

Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! (1804)

It was a particular joy of Gillray to satirise the fashions and social mores of modern society. In ‘Advantages of wearing muslin dresses!’, a fashionable muslin dress catches fire on a red-hot poker, causing uproar as a cat flees and a waiter drops his tray.

Gillray pokes fun at serious conventions surrounding taking afternoon tea, a drink which had become popular than coffee, chocolate, and alcohol due to the British East India Company monopoly over the tea industry in England.

6. Monstrous Craws, at a New Coalition Feast (1787)

Monstrous Craws, at a New Coalition Feast (1787)

King George III (dressed as an old woman), Queen Charlotte and the Prince of Wales sit around a bowl of guineas. They greedily guzzle coins which are immediately collected by the bizarre, pelican-like bags attached to their necks. The bowl is inscribed ‘John Bull’s Blood’.

This image of gluttony offered a critique of the royal demands on the public purse in 1787. Parliament had recently granted the Prince £161,000 to pay off debts (over £10 million in today’s money) and had raised his annual income to £60,000.

7. A sphere, projecting against a plane (1792)

A sphere, projecting against a plane. (1792)

In this print, Gillray brings together two of his favourite subjects from social and political satires.

Pitt, a politician, was a lanky, frugal workaholic. In contrast, the Honourable Albinia Hobart, later Countess of Buckinghamshire, was heavily obese, a flamboyant amateur thespian and avid supporter of Pitt’s political rival, Charles James Fox.

Referencing a mathematical equation of Euclid, which is printed below, Pitt represents a plane, and Mrs Hobart, a sphere. Trapped in this circular anatomy, she must move on a trolley since rolling would be considered crude amongst members of high society.

8. The King of Brobdingnag, and Gulliver (1803)

George III inspects a tiny Napoleon through a spy-glass. On this close inspection, he exclaims:

‘My little friend Grildrig, you have made a most admirable panegyric upon Yourself and Country, but from what I can gather from your own relation & the answers I have with much pains wringed & extorted from you, I cannot but conclude you to be one of the most pernicious, little odious reptiles, that nature ever suffer’d to crawl upon the surface of the Earth.’

When shown this print, the King was reported to have said, ‘Quite wrong, quite wrong, no bag [the King’s wig] with uniform!”

Note Gillray’s delight in jesting about Napoleon’s short stature. On his death, Napoleon actually measured an average height of 5’ 6’’.

James Gillray, sometimes spelled Gilray (born August 13, 1757 in Chelsea died June 1, 1815), was a English caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810.


Checklist Part 8

Here Gillray appears to debunk a charlatan, Benjamin Perkins, an American who set up shop in Leicester Square. Perkins promoted the efficacy of the “metallic tractor,” a device invented by his father, which he claimed cured many afflictions, including “tumors, epilepsy, burns, inflammations and the gout.”

While this print could simply reflect Gillray’s lifelong dislike of “humbugs and publicity seekers,” there may have been more to this story. Perkins wrote Gillray: “Mr. Perkins presents his compliment to Mr. Gillray. with many thanks, and the enclosed acknowledgement, for the print, which he has seen, with great satisfaction.” Perkins goes on to ask that Gillray not divulge the details of their transaction, and concludes his letter: “Will Mr. Perkins be gratified in his wishes to see his print exhibited in the other print shops also? He likewise begs to ask what would be charged him for a dozen impressions?” Possibly Perkins refers to another commission, but if not, as Draper Hill comments, this print demonstrates Perkins’s unique perspective on merchandising.

144
The COW-POCK – or – the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation! – Vide. the Publications of ye Anti-Vaccine Society.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: June 12, 1802
Etching and aquatint with soft ground, hand-colored

Gillray shows Dr. Edward Jenner administering smallpox vaccinations at the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital at St. Pancras. He had been conducting experiments with cow-pox for several years, supported by a parliamentary grant of £10,000, and in 1799 he began to test his vaccine on human subjects. Jenner’s inoculations were highly controversial and the subject of contemporary satires, which were almost uniformly anti-Jenner. Here Gillray imagines some unfortunate “side-effects” of Jenner’s vaccine, possibly influenced by a French print of 1801, Admirable effet de la Vaccine. The Anti-Vaccine Society mentioned in the title had warned that the vaccine might produce “bovine characteristics.” Gillray injects a final jest: the picture on the wall shows worshippers praying before the Golden Calf.

145
Scientific Researches! – New Discoveries in PNEUMATICKS! – or – an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: May 23, 1802
Etching with engraving and roulette, hand-colored

Gillray pokes fun at the fashionable lectures sponsored by the Royal Institution. Founded in 1799 by an American-born physicist and government administrator, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (seen standing to the right of the open door), and Sir Joseph Banks, the Royal Institution hoped to educate the public about new scientific experiments and discoveries. In this lecture, Thomas Young, Professor of Natural History, is experimenting on Sir John Coxe Hippsley, manager of the Royal Institution and a member of Parliament. Young holds his subject’s nose, while Hippsley inhales gas from a retort with dramatic and explosive results. Scholar Katherine Hart suggests that this or a similar experiment was witnessed by Lady Holland, who observed at the time that the “effect upon him [perhaps Hippsley] was so animating that the ladies tittered, held up their hands, and declared themselves satisfied.”

146
The GOUT.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: May 14, 1799
Soft ground etching with engraving and roulette, hand-colored

Historian M. Dorothy George considered gout to be “pre-eminently the disease of the century.” Usually associated with men of high social rank who overindulged in food and drink, it often afflicted the joint at the base of the big toe, which would become swollen, red, and very tender. Gillray focuses on the affected area in what must be one of the most painful visualizations of a disease. A tiny devil attacks the inflamed toe with tooth, claw, and barbed tail.

147
ci-devant Occupations – or – Madame Talian and the Empress Josephine dancing Naked before Barrass in the Winter of 1797. – A Fact! –
Published by Hannah Humphrey: February 20, 1805
Etching with engraving and roulette, hand-colored

Inspired by Napoleon’s coronation on December 2, 1804 (see Gillray’s The Grand Coronation-Procession of Napoleone the 1st, on view in the current Salomon Room [316] exhibition), Gillray here dreams up a fantastic account of Napoleon’s introduction to Josephine, Madame de Beauharnais, in 1795. Comte de Barras, a member of the Directory from 1796 to 1799, seen here slouched in a chair, was said to have tired of his mistress, Josephine, then a leader of fashionable French society, and had become smitten with the beautiful, considerably younger, Madame Thérèse Tallien, the daughter of an important Spanish banker. Napoleon allegedly took Josephine, penniless and widowed with two children, off Barras’s hands in exchange for a promotion. Napoleon peeks at Josephine and Madame Tallien from behind a screen decorated with a cupid mounted on a crocodile, a reminder of his Egyptian campaign. In fact, Barras and Madame Tallien probably played cupid to Napoleon and Josephine, convincing each party that the other was a “person of means.” Napoleon and Josephine were married in a civil ceremony on March 9, 1796.

148
Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim Tollere humo – Virgil, Geor: –
Published by Hannah Humphrey: August 8, 1810
Etching and aquatint with engraving, hand-colored

On July 3, 1810, Baron Grenville was installed as Chancellor of Oxford, and Gillray took full advantage of the Baron’s size and his association with Catholic Emancipation (see End of the Irish Farce of Catholic-Emancipation, #102). The Baron, with a cross on his posterior, ascends into the air in a balloon, tailored to his ample girth. He tosses aside a Cardinal’s hat, rosary, and mitre, and he dons a papal tiara. Among the witnesses to the ceremony, who received degrees, were past supporters of Grenville’s ministry: Grenville’s brother, the Marquis of Buckingham (seen on the left in the top window of the Radcliffe Camera tower), the radical Tierney (without mask, holding a mortarboard on the right), and Grenville’s nephew, Temple, whose rotund body is outlined on the balloon. It was alleged that the shirtless Fox, standing in front of Tierney, had been offered a degree, but he could not afford a gown. In fact, he had withdrawn his name when he learned there was growing opposition to his award. However, Oxford undergraduates demanded that he be seated at the installation ceremonies with the doctoral recipients. Etched after an amateur’s suggestion, this satire is Gillray’s last print on a political theme.

149
LA BELLE ASSEMBLÉE.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: May 12, 1787
Etching, hand-colored

In this parody of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces (or possibly John Hamilton Mortimer’s caricature Iphigenia’s Late Procession from Kingston to Bristol), Gillray unleashes his venom on several leading pillars of society, who here are feigning youth. Proceeding toward the altar of love, Lady Archer (known for her riding and hunting) carries a whip and leads a lamb Lady Mount-Edgecumbe offers a pair of doves Miss Jeffries brings flowers and Lady Cecilia Johnstone, known as “St. Cecilia,” plays the lyre. Lady Buckinghamshire (Mrs. Hobart), known for her gambling tables and amateur theatricals (see #150 and #132), pours incense on the altar. This procession offers a striking contrast to the sculptural Three Graces on the wall. In the distance, Apollo plays his violin.

150
Discipline à la Kenyon.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: March 25, 1797
Etching, hand-colored

Gambling was a favorite target of satirists in the 1790s, and aristocratic women who engaged in card playing were the object of especially zealous attacks by moral reformers. Joining in these assaults on the morals of the upper classes, Gillray indicted gaming and gambling women in several satires, which were drawn rather crudely, most likely to suggest the vulgarity of his subjects.

In May 1796, the Lord Chief Justice and Evangelical sympathizer Lord Kenyon proclaimed from the King’s Bench, “If any prosecutions [against gambling] are fairly brought before me … and the parties are justly convicted, whatever may be their rank or station in the country, though they should be the first ladies in the land, they shall certainly exhibit themselves in the Pillory.” Lady Buckinghamshire (Mrs. Hobart) was one of a number of fashionable women who held regular gaming parties in their homes. When a strongbox with 500 guineas belonging to Lady Buckinghamshire and her partners went missing, the footmen who had been dismissed as a result of the theft reported the illegal game of faro to the authorities, and the women were fined. Here, Lord Kenyon (who did not, in fact, preside over the Lady Buckinghamshire incident) whips Lady Buckinghamshire, while Lady Archer and Lady Mount-Edgecumbe observe from a pillory.

151
La Promenade en Famille. – a Sketch from Life.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: April 23, 1797
Etching, hand-colored

As Diana Donald points out, while the moralists of the mid-eighteenth century focused on the unseemly social climbing of the lower classes, the radicals of the 1790s, and even the reform-minded Tories, perceived the “idle rich” as a threat to the well-being and the strength of the country. The aristocracy as a caste found itself under attack. Donald believes that “Gillray’s savage caricatures of the royal family and more loose-living members of the aristocracy” – personal attacks that were intertwined with a political agenda – “must also have had a powerful effect on reformist opinion within the elite itself.” Here Gillray ridicules the Duke of Clarence, whose liaison with the actress Dorothy Jordan lasted from 1791 until 181l and produced ten children (ennobled as the Fitzclarences). The Duke shows the effects of hauling three of his illegitimate progeny on the eight-mile trek between Richmond, Mrs. Jordan’s home, and Bushy Park, a royal preserve near Hampton Court. Less taxed, Mrs. Jordan reads from the script for The Spoiled Child, a farce which she wrote and in which she acted. The faux coat of arms on the cart combines a crown and a chamber pot, colloquially known as a “jordan.” The Duke ended the relationship when, as William IV, he had to find a potential queen and to sire legitimate children.

152
The ORANGERIE – or – the Dutch Cupid reposing, after the fatigues of Planting. – Vide. The Visions in Hampton Bower.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: September 16, 1796
Etching with engraving, hand-colored

The British royal family and the aristocracy were not the only targets of Gillray’s social satires. Here he ridicules William V of Orange, who emigrated from Holland in January 1795. Lord Holland wrote of the Dutch Stadholder at the time, “When the Prince of Orange resided at Hampton Court, his amours with the servant maids were supposed to be very numerous.” Usually shown with his eyes shut (as in The Bridal-Night, #154), the Prince, here in the guise of a cupid-gardener, dreams of phalanxes of young women, who, thanks to his dalliances, are all in advanced stages of pregnancy. The little orange trees in the foreground bear fruit progeny, which resemble the sleeping Prince.

While many of Gillray’s prints evolved from his own designs, as was the case here, still others were based on the suggestions of amateurs (prints commissioned after others’ designs were an important source of income for Gillray). With this print Gillray begins to sign his own designs as “inv: et fect” (“invented/created and made/engraved”), distinguishing those satires from prints made after the suggestions of others, which were inscribed as “d: et ft,” “des: et fect,” or with some slight variation, or were left unsigned.

153
PANDORA opening her Box.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: February 22, 1809
Etching, engraving, and aquatint, hand-colored

Gillray shows Mrs. Mary Anne Clarke, former mistress of the Duke of York, testifying before the House of Commons on the charge that she plotted with the Duke to sell Army commissions. In 1806, the Duke had ended their relationship because of her “pecuniary
transactions,” but promised her a yearly stipend if her conduct was “correct.” The plot thickened when the Duke cut off her allowance, and in retaliation she threatened to publish “everything which has come under my knowledge during our intimacy, with all his letters.” The scandal came to a head in 1809 when a member of Parliament, an ex-colonel named Wardle, who had been refused a commission, challenged the Duke’s ignorance of these transactions, and provided evidence of Mrs. Clarke’s business dealings.

Mrs. Clarke, in the guise of Pandora opening her box, testified before the House of Commons, and apparently handled all questions and charges with aplomb. William Wilberforce noted in his diary that she “clearly got the better in the tussle.” The crown paid some £7,000 and an annual pension of £400 to silence her and to destroy all published copies of the love letters. She also issued an exposé, in which she denounced Wardle.

154
The BRIDAL-NIGHT.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: May 18, 1797
Etching and aquatint, hand-colored

Gillray imagines the events that might have transpired after the wedding of the Princess Royal and the Prince of Württemberg on May 17, 1797. The King, immediately recognizable though partially hidden by a pillar, accompanied by Queen Charlotte (for once not travestied by Gillray), leads the contingent to a dinner party at the Royal Lodge, Windsor. Gillray delights in emphasizing the groom’s girth. The Prince of Württemberg is preceded by his immense stomach (he was known unceremoniously as the “great bellygerent”), and the Princess wears around her waist a miniature of her husband, which echoes the shape of his silhouette. To reinforce the point, Gillray includes on the wall behind the newlyweds a picture of a cupid riding an elephant. Others in the procession following the Princess are the Prince of Wales and his three siblings, all sharing a strong family resemblance. Next to Lady Derby, bedecked with feathers on the far right, is the ever-sleepy Dutch Stadholder, William V of Orange (see The Orangerie, #152). In the background, William Pitt carries a bag of money, inscribed £80,000, alluding to the Princess’s dowry.

155
Ancient Music.
Published by Samuel W. Fores: May 10, 1787
Etching, hand-colored

Gillray satirizes George III’s enthusiasm for “ancient” music and Handel, who, from the time he settled in London, had flattered his royal and patrician patrons by associating England with heroes of the Old Testament. By 1785, the King had begun attending programs arranged by “The Concert of Ancient Music,” founded in 1776 by Joah Bates (here portrayed as an ox). In 1784, the first Handel Commemoration was celebrated at Westminster Abbey, with burgeoning numbers of performers in subsequent years. Richard Godfrey quotes Horace Walpole’s response to one of these concerts: “the chorus and kettle drums for four hours were so thunderfull, that they gave me a head-ache.” Gillray incorporates nonmusical instruments into the orchestra: two screeching cats, hung by their tails two caterwauling, thrashed schoolboys serving as kettledrums a cluster of fishwives a pig whose tail is being tweaked and William Pitt on whistle. The King and Queen seem delighted with the concert, though the Queen, ever a target of Gillray’s ridicule, is given facial bristles and an unsightly nose drip in this, the second state of the print.

156
The Reception of the Diplomatique & his Suite, at the Court of Pekin.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: September 14, 1792
Etching, hand-colored

Gillray here concocts a scenario that foretells actual events. A year after Gillray’s account, on September 14, 1793, the Emperor of China in Peking received the 1st Earl Macartney and an eager and obsequious British mission, armed with a letter from George III. The British had hoped to promote British products, from weapons to toys, but the Emperor along with his retinue showed no interest, but instead replied to George III, “I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

Gillray shows here that he was a master of printmaking, skillfully weaving together hatching, cross-hatching, and stipple to evoke the spirit of Rococo chinoiserie. The hand-coloring is purposefully delicate so as not to obscure the refinements of Gillray’s etching technique.

157
OVERTHROW of the REPUBLICAN-BABEL.
Published by Hannah Humphrey: May 1, 1809
Etching and engraving, hand-colored

The charges leveled by Mrs. Clarke against her former lover, the Duke of York (portrayed in Gillray’s Pandora opening her Box, #153, on view above), top off a Tower of Babel composed of Republican plots and plans. However, the verbal blasts from Foreign Secretary George Canning, Robert Castlereagh, then serving in the War Department, and the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, and a stream of water from the “Royal Water-Spout” topple the Tower and, with it, various Republican causes. Mrs. Clarke and ex-colonel Wardle, who was later revealed to have been Mrs. Clarke’s lover and co-plotter against the Duke, tumble down from the broken “Broad-bottom Ladder of Ambition.” In the related print, Pandora opening her Box, the Broad-bottom Ministry (appearing there as a privy labeled “Broad Bottom Reservoir”) is also implicated in the plot to discredit the Duke. The House ultimately found the Duke “innocent of corruption or connivance.” Though he resigned as commander in chief, he was reinstated in 1811.

158
Overthrow of the Republican-Babel
Pen and ink with white body color and traces of red chalk, squared for transfer, 1809

The figure of the Speaker of the House of Commons has greater prominence in this preparatory sketch, but Mary Clarke is still sent flying in this frenetic composition, squared for transfer. By this technique a design is broken down into small increments to facilitate copying, particularly when the artist is enlarging or reducing a composition.

159
Sketch for Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim Tollere humo – Virgil, Geor: – (#148)
Pen and ink and gray wash, squared for transfer in pen and ink, 1809

160
Sketch for balloon for Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim Tollere humo – Virgil, Geor: – (#148)
Graphite, 1809

Gillray develops his “portrait” of Grenville’s rotund nephew, Temple, as the hot-air balloon.

161
Sketch for lower left corner of Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim Tollere humo – Virgil, Geor: – (#148)
Gray wash with inscriptions in pen and ink, squared for transfer in graphite, 1809

In the contest for the Chancellorship of Oxford, Gillray portrayed Grenville as the candidate who favored the Catholics, as opposed to the unsuccessful candidate Lord Eldon, who was considered the guardian of Protestant interests. In this detailed sketch, Gillray defines a row of Anglican bishops, seen in the left foreground of the print, who eagerly reach up to catch the Catholic regalia tossed to them by Grenville.

162
Prince of Wales gambling
Pen and ink and wash, 1797

The Prince of Wales was one of Gillray’s favorite targets. The Prince’s affairs, his profligacy, his debauchery, and his Whig alliances offered endless topics for satire. Gillray here shows the Prince losing at dice seated opposite him is the infamous madam, Mother Windsor, who also appears in The Presentation – or – The Wise Men’s Offering (see #15, in the North Hall). This drawing, however, was never realized as a print. Draper Hill hypothesizes that Gillray most likely at that moment was negotiating his government pension, a stipend that would restrain him from attacks on the royal family. There was a single exception to this truce: Duke William’s Ghost (see #16, in the North Hall), in which the drunken Prince is visited by the ghost of his uncle. Hill suggests that George Canning, Gillray’s primary supporter in government, may have permitted this solitary satire in light of Canning’s sympathy for the Princess of Wales, who had been ill-treated by her husband.


"The Zenith of French Glory: The Pinnacle of Liberty.", British Caricature of the French Revolution, February 1793

"The Zenith of French Glory: The Pinnacle of Liberty. Religion, Justice, Loyalty & all the Bugbears of Unenlightend Minds, Farewell!". A satire of the radicalism of the French Revolution.

I randomly struck upon this while on a Wikipedia binge and loved it, we had used it in school when discussing the Revolution

James Gillray

James Gillray (13 August 1756 or 1757 – 1 June 1815) was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810.

Gillray has been called "the father of the political cartoon", with his works satirizing George III, prime ministers and generals. Regarded as being one of the two most influential cartoonists, the other being William Hogarth, Gillray's wit and humour, knowledge of life, fertility of resource, keen sense of the ludicrous, and beauty of execution, at once gave him the first place among caricaturists.


Book/Printed Material | Photo, Print, Drawing The works of James Gillray, from the original plates, with the addition of many subjects not before collected.

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The 8 Best Satires by James Gillray - History

The ability to poke fun is an important component of any society and London is certainly no exception. In the London collection, this ability is well represented in the early eighteenth-century works of popular satirist, burlesque poet, and London tavern owner Edward "Ned" Ward. Two of the collection's political satires by Ward are Hudibras Redivivus (4th ed.) and Vulgus Britannicus, or, The British Hudibras (2nd ed.), both dated 1710. Written in a serial format imitating--or, as Ward claimed, continuing--Samuel Butler's Hudibras of 1663, these works provide a survey of the political controversies as manifested and witnessed by the author in the London of his day. Especially popular were the books in which Ward applied the model of a trip narrative to London and its environs. In this genre, Bryn Mawr owns The Merry Travellers (2nd ed., 1724) and The Wand'ring Spy, or, The Merry Travellers. Part II (1722), the latter a comical account of the Southwark election. Additional works by Ward in the collection include The Quack-Vintners, or, A Satyr Against Bad Wine (1712), humorously advising on the London inns and hotels at which good wine could be had, and A Legacy for the Ladies (1705), written with fellow irreverent satirist Thomas Brown and giving a comical view of London and Westminster. The Secret History of Clubs is attributed to Ward and was first published in two parts that were later joined together with additional material in A Compleat and Humorous Account of All the Remarkable Clubs and Societies in the Cities of London and Westminster. The College's collection includes both--a 1709 original edition of the former and a 1756 seventh edition of the latter--as well as Ward's Satyrical Reflections on Clubs (1719). With its tendency toward the vulgar and bawdy, Ward's work was scorned by Alexander Pope, who claimed it was not even read in England, but instead sent off to the colonies.

The collection is also rich in humorous and satirical works of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly of the pictorial variety. From James Gillray, London native and one of the most influential political and social caricaturists of all time, Bryn Mawr owns the Henry G. Bohn edition of The Works of James Gillray from the Original Plates, published in 1851. Early in the nineteenth century, London political satirist and pamphleteer William Hone collaborated with artist George Cruikshank on numerous caricatures and illustrated satirical pamphlets, parodying the corruption of government and excesses of royalty. Two such pamphlets held in the collection are The Political House that Jack Built (1821) and A Slap at Slop and the Bridgestreet Gang (1822), the latter attacking the conservative press of John Stoddart, a London editor to whom Hone gave the nickname "Dr. Slop." Other nineteenth-century illustrated humorous books in the collection are John Leighton's London Out of Town (1847) and Henry Mayhew's 1851, or, The Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sandboys and Family (1851). Leighton, who was an illustrator and publisher in London, gives a send-up of Londoners on vacation, while Mayhew--social scientist, economist, writer and journalist--does the reverse, lampooning the country family who has come to the city for the 1851 Exhibition his work is illustrated by Cruikshank. From well-known Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott, who received his training at the Slade School in London, Bryn Mawr has several volumes of Graphic Pictures from the late nineteenth century.

In 1841, Henry Mayhew and his associates founded the famous magazine Punch, a British weekly of humour and satire. Originally, it bore the subtitle The London Charivari, referring specifically to the French satirical magazine Le Charivari and to the general sense of the word--a confused, discordant medley of sounds. Both Cruikshank and Caldecott were frequent contributors to the magazine, which is well represented in Bryn Mawr's collection with Punch's Snapdragons, for Christmas (1845), George Du Maurier's English Society at Home (1880) and Charles Keene's Our People (1881), as well as Mr. Punch's Victorian Era (1887), Punch's Cartoons of the Great War (1915), and The Best Cartoons from Punch: Collected for Americans (1952).

Brown, Thomas, 1663-1704
A legacy for the ladies, or, Characters of the women of the age / by the late ingenious Mr. Thomas Brown with a comical view of London and Westminster: or, The merry quack wherein physick is rectified for both the beaus and ladies. In two parts. The first part by Mr. Thomas Brown: The second part by Mr. Edw. Ward . To which is prefixt, The character of Mr. Tho. Brown, and his writings, written by Dr. Drake
London : Printed by H. Meere, for S. Briscoe, and sold by J. Nutt, near Stationers-Hall, 1705
I34123751

Caldecott, Randolph, 1846-1886
More Graphic pictures / by Randolph Caldecott
London New York : G. Routledge & Sons, 1887
fNC1479.C32 A4 1883

Caldecott, Randolph, 1846-1886
Randolph Caldecott's Graphic pictures
London New York : G. Routledge & Sons, 1883
fNC1479.C32 A4 1883

Caldecott, Randolph, 1846-1886
Randolph Caldecott's Graphic pictures
London , New York : G. Routledge, 1887-91
fNC1115 .C2 1887

Caldecott, Randolph, 1846-1886
Randolph Caldecott's Graphic pictures
London New York [etc.], 1889
Uncat 1265

Cruikshank, George, 1792-1878
Cruikshankiana : an assemblage of the most celebrated works of George Cruikshank : travelling in England, or white horse collar, travelling in France, or the diligence, savoyards. return from Paris, the niece, &c. . unpleasant weather, raining cats, dogs, pitchforks. monstrosities, or London dandies, 1816 to 1827 (8 plates), military dandies, ancient and modern. sailor's progress, or progress of a midshipman. Deighton's [sic] London nuisances. 81 plates.
London : M'Lean, 1835
ffNC242 .C7 C72 1835

Cruikshank, George, 1792-1878
Cruikshankiana : an assemblage of the most celebrated works of George Cruikshank, travelling in England, or white horse cellar, travelling in France, or the diligence, savoyards. return from Paris, the niece, &c. . unpleasant weather, raining cats, dogs, pitchforks. monstrosities, or London dandies 181- to 1827 (8 plates). sailor's progress, or progress of a midshipman. Deighton's [sic] London nuisances. 81 plates on 68.
London : E. Lumley, [ca. 1836]
ffNC242 .C7 C72 1836

Du Maurier, George, 1834-1896
English society at home, from the collection of Mr. Punch. , by George Du Maurier
London, Bradbury, Agnew, 1880
fNC1479 .D82 1880

Gillray, James, 1757-1815
The works of James Gillray from the original plates : with the addition of many subjects not before collected
London : Printed for Henry G. Bohn, by C. Whiting, [1851]
ffND1479 .G5 1800

Hake, Edward, fl. 1560-1604
Newes out of Powles churchyarde / Written in English satyrs. By Edward Hake . Accurately reprinted from the excessively rare edition of 1579 in the possession of Sir Charles E. Isham, bart. Edited, with an introduction, and extracts from the author's other works, by Charles Edmonds ..
London : H. Sotheran, Baer and co., 1872
q821.2 H127

Hone, William, 1780-1842
A slap at slop and the Bridgestreet gang. By the author of the 'Political house that Jack built'. With twenty seven cuts
London, W. Hone, 1822
PR4794 .H5 S43 1822

Hone, William, 1780-1842
The political house that Jack built . / With thirteen cuts ..
London : W. Hone, 1821
942.074 H75

Keene, Charles, 1823-1891
Our people / sketched by Charles Keene from the collection of Mr. Punch.
Boston : James R. Osgood & Co., 1881
NC1479 .K4 1881

Lear, Edward, 1812-1888
A book of nonsense / by Edward Lear from the 10th London ed., with many new pictures and verses
New York : M. Doolady, [1863?]
PR4879 .L2 N6 1863

Leighton, John, 1822-1912
London out of town, or, The adventures of the Browns at the sea side / by Luke Limner
London : D. Bogue, [1847]
NC1479.L6 A3 1847

Mayhew, Henry, 1812-1887
1851 or, The adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sandboys and family : who came up to London to enjoy themselves, and to see the Great Exhibition / by Henry Mayhew and George Cruikshank
London : D. Bogue [1851]
I33172407

Smith, Albert, 1816-1860
The wassail-bowl. By Albert Smith
London, R. Bentley, 1843
PR5453 .S4 W3 1843

Steele, Richard, Sir, 1672-1729
A good husband for five shillings, or, Esquire Bickerstaff's lottery for the London-ladies : wherein those that want bedfellows, in an honest way, will have a fair chance to be well-fitted
London : Printed and sold by James Woodward . and John Baker . 1710
PR3757.W8 Q8 1712

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
A compleat and humorous account of all the remarkable clubs and societies in the cities of London and Westminster . Compil'd from the original papers of a gentleman who frequented those places upwards of twenty years
London, Printed for J. Wren, 1756
I32360307

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
Hudibras redivivus, or, A burlesque poem on the times : in twenty four parts, with an Apology, and some other improvements throughout the whole / by E. Ward
London : Printed for John Wren, [1710?]
PR3757 .W8 H8 1710

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
Marriage-dialogues, or, A poetical peep into the state of matrimony : . with moral reflexions on every dialogue : together with, The wars of the elements, or, A description of a sea-storm . / by the author of the London-spy
[London] : Sold by J. Woodward . and J. Morphew . 1709
PR3757 .W8 M37 1709

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
Nuptial dialogues and debates, or, An useful prospect of the felicities and discomforts of a marry'd life : incident to all degrees from the throne to the cottage : containing many great examples of love, piety, prudence, justice . : also the fantastical humours of all fops, coquets, bullies, jilts . : digested into serious, merry, and satyrical poems / by the author of the London-Spy
London : Printed by H. Meere, for T. Norris . and A. Bettesworth . : and sold by J. Woodward . , 1710
PR3757 .W8 N8 1710

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
Satyrical reflections on clubs : in twenty nine chapters . / by the author of The London-spy
London : Printed, and sold by A. Bettesworth . 1719
PR3757.W8 S28 1719

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
The merry travellers, or, A trip upon ten-toes from Moorfields to Bromley : an humorous poem, intended as the Wandering spy. Part I / by the author of the Cavalcade
London : Printed for the author, and sold by A. Bettesworth . 1724
PR3757 .W8 M47 1724

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
The quack-vintners, or, A satyr against bad wine : with directions where to have good : inscribed to B---ks and H----r
[London] : Sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, 1712
PR3757 .W8 Q8 1712

The Secret history of clubs : particularly the Kit=cat, Beef=stake, Vertuosos, Quacks, Knights of the Golden=fleece, Florists, Beaus, & c : with their original, and the characters of the most noted members thereof
London : Printed and sold by the Booksellers, 1709
HS2515.G72 L62 1709

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
The wand'ring spy, or, The merry travellers. Part II : to which is added, The contending candidates, or, The broom-staff battles, dirty skirmishes, and other comical humours of the Southwark election / by the author of the Cavalcade
London : Printed, and are to be sold by A. Bettesworth and J. Batley . J. Hook . S. Briscoe . M. Hotham . 1722
PR3757 .W8 M47 1724

Ward, Edward, 1667-1731
Vulgus Britannicus, or, The British Hudibras : in fifteen canto's : the five parts compleat in one volume : containing the secret history of the late London mob . intermix'd with the civil-wars betwixt High-Church and Low-Church, down to this time : being a continuation of the late ingenious Mr. Butler's Hudibras / written by the author of The London spy
London, Printed for Sam. Briscoe, and sold by James Woodward . and John Morphew . 1710
PR3757 .W8 V8 1710b

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, In upwards of 100 cartoons from the collection of Mr. Punch.
London, 1878
fDA564 .B3 P8 1878

Mr. Punch's Victorian era : An illustrated chronicle of fifty years of the reign of her majesty the queen
London : Bradbury, Agnew & Co., 1887
Uncat f879

Punch cartoons of the Great War
New York, Doran, 1915
fD526.2 .P8 1915

Punch's snapdragons, for Christmas, illustrated with four steel engravings by Leech
London, published at the Punch Office, 1845
I32874480

The best cartoons from Punch : collected for Americans from England's famous humorous weekly / edited by Marvin Rosenberg and William Cole
[New York] : Simon and Schuster, 1952
fNC1478 .P8 1952


The 8 Best Satires by James Gillray - History

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Why the golden age of political satire was actually Orange

The golden age of British satire has long been attributed to the 18th century, when cartoons by William Hogarth and James Gillray pricked the pretensions of the powerful.

A historian now says the tradition — usually seen as homegrown — had its roots decades earlier than thought, in Dutch propaganda produced for William of Orange at the time of his deposition of England’s James II.


The 8 Best Satires by James Gillray - History


Below is a list of the available plates from James Gillray
(as indentified in Historical and Descriptive Account of the
Carricatures [sic] of James Gillray
by Thomas Wright and R. H. Evans.)

The Works of James Gillray from the Original Plates with the Addition of Many Subjects Not Before Collected

(1847-1851)
published by Henry G. Bohn, London
written by
Charles Whiting

Original Copperplate Engravings/Etchings over 170 years old, from the original Gillray copper plates

Sheet Size: approx.19 x 24.75 inches (full sheets) Some sheets have been trimmed down to half size.

Image Size: varies (note: most, but not all, plates have engravings on both sides of the sheet, as published by Bohn.)

Condition: Good to Excellent. Some prints have signs of foxing or other age-related defects. Please have a look at the enlarged photos for the best indication of each print's condition.

James Gillray was born on August 13, 1756 and was the only one of his parents' five children to survive childhood. Gillray's father, a Scot, had become a member of an austere and strict evangelical sect called the Moravian Brotherhood and in 1749 had been appointed sexton of the Moravian Chapel in Chelsea.

The Moravian community had an abhorrence of any sort of pleasure and children were forbidden games. Instead, they were encouraged from the earliest age to contemplate and to welcome death as a glorious release from the iniquities of earthly life. Indeed, Gillray's eldest brother died saying "Pray don't keep me. O let me go, I must go. "

It was in this gloomy atmosphere that Gillray was brought up and educated and which surely had an effect on his personality.

Still, from childhood Gillray was determined on a career as an artist and for a time was apprenticed to a shop which produced such everyday engraved items as cheques, certificates, etc. However, in 1778 he attended the recently established Royal Academy Schools to study engraving but without any apparent inclination to become a caricaturist.

At this time a good income was to be had from the engraving of the works of 'serious' artists but success in this field depended on the engraver making a faithful reproduction of an artist's work without imposing anything of his own personality on the image.

It soon became apparent that Gillray couldn't take on a subject without exaggerating some aspect or other and as a result achieved little success in this particular field. His strength lay in the exaggerations of character and the personal.

One of Gillray's obvious predecessors in the tradition of English satire was William Hogarth, who died while Gillray was still a child.

But whereas Hogarth expressed his satirical ideas through morality tales such as 'The Rake's Progress' Gillray, by contrast, seems to have entirely dispensed with the idea of morality and appears to have held the belief that humankind was utterly irredeemable which was probably a result of his Moravian upbringing.

Gillray had also become expert and innovative in the techniques of etching and engraving and by 1790 there was an abundance of material upon which Gillray was able to exercise this expertise.

The French revolution, the leading politicians of the day, and Royalty were all caricatured mercilessly, as were the fashionable personalities parading the streets of London.

Initially Gillray had worked for various print publishers, principal among them being William Humphrey and his sister Hannah Humphrey, but gradually he began to work solely for Hannah, Mrs. Humphrey, and in 1793 took up lodging with her in Old Bond Street.

This arrangement continued for the rest of his life, moving with her to New Bond Street and then finally to 27 St. James's Street. There were mutual advantages in this set-up. It gave Gillray security, a place to work and his domestic needs were taken care of.

For Mrs.Humphrey's part. she was able to show that she had sole rights to the work of James Gillray. Gillray's prints were not cheap and by now his reputation had spread to Europe.

A journalist writing for the German periodical 'London und Paris' wrote of Gillray's "extensive literary knowledge of every kind his extremely accurate drawing the novelty of his ideas and his unswerving, constant regard for the essence of caricature these things make him the foremost living artist in his genre".

By now, many prominent personages were anxious to be portrayed by Gillray though ultimately this would affect Gillray's independence when he was awarded an annual pension of £200 by the Tory government.

Thereafter, there were fewer caricatures of George III and his Queen, to be replaced by merciless attacks on the Whigs who are depicted as pro-French traitors with particularly scathing attention being paid to Charles James Fox.

Towards the end of his career Gillray's primary target was Napoleon Bonaparte and as "Little Boney"s power and ambition increased so did Gillray's caricatures of him become ever more extreme.

After the turn of the century however, Gillray's output lessened as he fell into ill health.

In 1807 Mrs.Humphrey sent him to Margate to convalesce which did little to improve his condition and in 1811 he produced his last print : 'A Barber's Shop in Assize Time' by which time he had become incurably insane. He was looked after by Mrs. Humphrey and at one point tried to kill himself by attempting to throw himself from the attic but managed only to get his head stuck between iron bars and was rescued by an attendant from White's club opposite who had witnessed the attempt.


Gillray died on 1st. June, 1815 and his death went almost unremarked except for a brief mention in the Gentleman's Magazine.


After Mrs.Humphrey's death in 1818 the business was taken over by her nephew George Humphrey who, along with a fellow publisher Thomas McLean tried to market a series of prints from Gillray's original plates but met with little success.

After the death of George Humphrey the business was carried on by his widow until she retired in 1835 and in July of that year offered her entire stock, including Gillray's drawings, prints and original copper plates for auction.

Several hundred drawings were sold but on the last day of the sale when some 610 of Gillray's plates were offered no-one was prepared to meet Mrs. Humphrey's reserve price, thought to have been at least £1,000. The plates remained unsold until her death whereupon the executors offered them for the price of the copper.

An enterprising publisher by the name of H.G.Bohn happened to hear of this in time to save them from being melted down and went on to publish, in 1847-1851, two massive volumes - The Works of James Gillray from the Original Plates. One volume being of 45 "suppressed plates". These suppressed plates were intended for gentlemen only and not for the delicate sensibilities of the female population.

Today only five plates engraved by Gillray are known to exist and it can only be assumed that the rest were melted down or otherwise disposed of.


Watch the video: Στο νοσοκομείο η Έλενα Μαριπόζα και ο James Καφετζής (January 2022).