James Gillray

British caricaturist and printmaker (1756-1815)

James Gillray (13 August 1756 or 1757 – 1 June 1815) was a British caricaturist and printmaker.[2] He was famous for his cartoons. They were etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810.

James Gillray
The Prince of Wales at table: A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion (1792)
L'Assemblée Nationale (1804) was called "the most talented caricature that has ever appeared". The Prince of Wales paid a large sum of money to have it suppressed and its plate destroyed.[1]

Gillray has been called "the father of the political cartoon". He satirized George III, prime ministers and generals.[3] He was one of the two most influential cartoonists of that time: the other was William Hogarth. Gillray's wit and humour, knowledge of life, and fine drawing, gave him the first place among caricaturists.[3][4]

The name of Gillray's publisher and print seller was Miss Hannah Humphrey. Her shop is always associated with the caricaturist. Gillray lived with Miss (often called Mrs) Humphrey for the entire period of his fame.

Although he satirized George III as "Farmer George", his main target was the gluttonous Prince of Wales (later George IV). Napoleon was another favourite target. Gillray was especially hard on the rich, the famous and the most powerful people.

The world being carved up into spheres of influence between Pitt and Napoleon — "probably the most famous political cartoon of all time, it has been stolen over and over and over again by cartoonists ever since".[5]

References Edit

  1. Wright T. & Evans R.H. 1851. Historical and descriptive account of the caricatures of James Gillray: comprising a political and humorous history of the latter part of the reign of George the Third. London: Henry G. Bohn.
  2. Gillray, James and Draper Hill 1966. Fashionable contrasts. London: Phaidon, p8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Satire, sewers and statesmen: why James Gillray was king of the cartoon". The Guardian. 16 June 2015.
  4. "James Gillray: the scourge of Napoleon". HistoryToday.
  5. Martin Rowson, speaking in The Secret of Drawing, presented by Andrew Graham Dixon, BBCTV