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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.

Click here for descriptions and analyses of the cartoons by James Gillray

Click here for the index to subjects in James Gillray's cartoons


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.

POLITICAL SERIES (Plates 1-366)
Plate Number
Title (Click link for image and details)
1-4
5-8
9-12
13-17
18-20
21-23
24 -25
26-29
30-32
33-35
36-38
39-43
44-49
50-52
Taming of the Shrew
The Impeachment
53-55
56-57
58-61
An Excrescence - A Fungus...
The Soldier's Return
The Introduction
62-65
The York Reverence
French Democrats Surprising...
The Knave Wins All...
66-69
Toasting Muffins
Weird Sisters
The Pacific Entrance of Earl Wolf
70-75
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York
A Sphere Projecting Against a Plane
The Bottomless Pitt
 
 
76-78
79-82
Vices Overlooked in the New Proclamation
Austrian Bugaboo Funking the French Army
The Fall of Wolsey
83-85
A Connoisseur Examining a Cooper
A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion
86-88
89-91
92-95
96-99
The Blood of the Murdered
A Democrat
The Chancellor of the Inquisition
100-101
102-103
104-105
106-108
Blue and Buff Charity
A Paris Belle
A Paris Beau
A French Hailstorm
110-112
113-115
116-118
119-121
122-124
125-127
Blindman's Bluff
Presages of the Millenium
128-131
A Keen-sighted Politician Warming his Imagination
The British Butcher
The Sleep-Walker
132-135
Supplementary Militia
Copenhagen House
Substitutes for Bread
136-139
The Republican Rattlesnake
Hanging. Drowning.
140-142
143-146
147-150
151-154
155-157
158-161
162-165
166-169
Political Ravishment
Midas Transmuting all into Paper
Le Bonnet Rouge
170-172
173-179
180-181
182-184
185-192
193-198
199-202
203-207
207*-210
208
NOT NUMBERED,
NOT BOHN?
NOT NUMBERED,
NOT BOHN?
Nelson's Victory
Meeting of the Monied Interest

(see also plates 209, 215-218)
210
211-214
Fighting for the Dunghill
Destruction of the French Colossus
Improvements in Weights and Measures
215-218
Buonaparte Hearing of Nelson's Victory (see also above after Plate 208, with John Bull taking a Luncheon)
219-220
Siege de la Colonne de Pompée
221-224
225-228
229-233
234-240
The Twin Stars, Castor and Pollux
The Affrighted Centaur
The Inexpressible Air of Dignity
A Man of Importance
Field-Marshal Count Sawarrow-Romniskoy
241-244
The High German Method
Independence
Pizarro Contemplating
245-248
Allied Powers Unbooting Egalite
The Reception in Holland
Exit Liberte a la Françoise!
249-251
252-254
255-257
The Magnanimous Ally
The Union Club
258-261
262-265
266-270
271-274
A Phantasmagoria
Bat-Catching
Doctor Sangrado Curing John Bull
275-280
281-284
285-287
The King of Brobdingnag 1
The Genius of France
288-289
290-291
Middlesex Election, 1804

292-298

Uncorking Old Sherry
The Grand Coronation Procession
The Plum-Pudding in Danger
The Apples and the Horse-Turds
John Bull Offering Little Boney Fair Play
The State Waggoner
299-300
301-304
The Reconciliation
The Wounded Lion
The Surrender of Ulm
305-308
309-312
Tiddy-Doll, the Great French Gingerbread Baker
Making Decent
More Pigs than Teats
A Tub for the Whale
313-316
317-320
The Triumph of Quassia
Visiting the Sick
Bruin in his Boat
321-324
Sketch for a Monument of Dissapointed Justice
Westminster Conscripts under the Training Act
News from Calabria! The Capture of Buenos Ayres!
325-330
331-334
John Bull and the Sinking Fund
Election Candidates
The Fall of Icarus
335-337
338-340
Charon's Boat
Phaeton Alarmed!
341-344
345-348
349-351
352-354
355-357
358-361
362-365