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"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 Etchings/Engravings over 170 years old

Full Sheet Size: approx. 19 x 24¾ inches
Half Sheet Size: approx. 9½ x 12¼ inches
(trimmed from full sheet)

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

 

Dido in Despair!
(click image for view of entire plate)

Dido in Despair!

(Side 1)

Sheet size: 16 5/8 x 11 1/2 inches
(trimmed from full sheet)

Condition
Good/Very Good: typical browning of extreme edges of paper; scattered light foxing;
narrow bottom margin, as the print was trimmed down from a full sheet.

NOTE: This print is not from the 1847-1851 Bohn edition (it has no plate number) but IS printed on both sides, so is not an earlier lifetime print. Some sources would put this at around 1830 from the McLean edition of Gillray prints. Another possibility is that Bohn printed this without numbering to have hand-coloured and sold individually. Regardless, it is one of Gillray's most famous images and highly collectable.

This print satirizes the scandalous relationship between Nelson and Emma Hamilton, casting them in the roles of Dido and Aeneas, the central love interest of the classical Roman poet Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid. Spurred on by the gods and his sense of public duty, Aeneas abandons Dido in Carthage in order to found Rome. Gillray plays with heavy irony upon the parallels between the Virgilian narrative and the recent history of Nelson and Emma: after the Battle of the Nile, Nelson recuperated at length (and notoriously) at the home of Sir William and Emma, Lady Hamilton, at Naples. They eventually returned to England in November 1800, by which time Emma was seven months pregnant with Nelson’s child. Nelson, promoted to vice-admiral, resumed duty as second-in-command of the Channel Fleet on 17 January 1801. The print, therefore, refers to this parting, with Emma, excessively fat, in an ‘attitude’ of despair, voicing the sentiments contained in the verse caption:

'Ah, where, & ah where , is my gallant Sailor gone? – He’s gone to Fight the Frenchmen, for George upon the Throne, He’s gone to Fight ye Frenchmen, t’loose t’other Arm & Eye, And left me with the old Antiques, to lay me down, & cry.'

The last line refers to Emma’s aged husband asleep in the bed beside her. Meanwhile, a range of grotesque and suggestively ribald objects on the table, floor and settee refer to the sexual improprieties of her and Nelson’s relationship and undercut the pretensions of the classical allusions.


John Bull Ground Down
(click image for view of entire plate)

John Bull ground down

(Side 2)

Sheet size: 16 5/8 x 11 1/2 inches
(trimmed from full sheet)

Condition
Good/Very Good: typical browning of extreme edges of paper; scattered light foxing; narrow bottom margin, as the print was trimmed down from a full sheet (portion of title missing).

NOTE: This print is not from the 1847-1851 Bohn edition (it has no plate number) but IS printed on both sides, so is not an earlier lifetime print. Some sources would put this at around 1830 from the McLean edition of Gillray prints. Another possibility is that Bohn printed this without numbering to have hand-coloured and sold individually.


"Dido in Despair!" and "John Bull ground down"
(two-sided plate)

$600


Gillray's "Political Series" Plates 1-366
Gillray's "Miscellaneous Series" Plates 367-582
Gillray's "Suppressed Series"

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