Thursday, 17 December 2009

James Gillray

click to enlarge

The UK papers, such as the Guardian - James Gillray cartoons discovered in Ministry of Justice clearout - variously mention the discovery of a volume of the "Suppressed Plates" by the political satirist James Gillray, works seized as obscene in Victorian times, stowed in various offices, and now rescued from a bin liner by the astute policy adviser David Pearson.

Probably Gillray's best-known prints (pictured above) are The Plumb-pudding in danger, or, State epicures taking un petit souper ... (in which Pitt and Napoleon divide up the world) and The Cow-Pock—or—the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!—vide. the Publications of ye Anti-Vaccine Society (which ridiculed an urban myth spread by anti-vaccinationists involving a "Cow-Poxed Ox-Faced Boy"). He's well-covered online, right from the full view of the 1851 Historical and descriptive account of the caricatures of James Gillray, which gives excellent contemporary commentary on what each print satirizes. Wikimedia Commons has a large collection of his prints.

Some of his prints are rather more personal: his The Gout is clearly drawn from the heart. I'm surprised he isn't in the Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database, a rather excellent collection of annotated references to medical conditions in art, literature and other media.
- Ray

1 comment:

  1. That left hand plate was reproduced (black and white line) in my O-level history textbook ... title and author log forgotten, circa 1966.