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Gillray Galleries:

List of Works

1779 — 1788

1788 — 1793

James Gillray
Exhibit at the
New York
Public Library

The Golden Age
of the English

Books on
William Hogarth

Books on
James Gillray

© Great Caricatures




The English Engraver


The Brentford Sweepstakes
Artist Unknown
Engraving published in
"Town and Country Magazine"
April 13 1769 (V, p.193-104)
British Satires No. 4285

The arc of popularity for satirical prints in England began in the early 1700s, peaked in the 1790s, and declined in the early 1800s. During this time, thousands of prints were published in England. They were produced in editions of hundreds and sometimes thousands of copies. Today, the British Museum preserves 10,000 of these prints. Several thousand more exist in the U.S Library of Congress and other museums.

In the late-1700s, London printshops and booksellers displayed prints in their storefront windows. Crowds of customers, along with people who couldn't afford prints, crowded the sidewalks to see new works by William Hogarth, Isaac Cruikshank and others.

During this time, the term caricatura came into use in England as caricature. The printshops used the term to define a genre that included virtually any print with a satirical or humorous theme.

Very Slippy Weather
James Gillray
Engraving from the 1851 Bohn edition
Originally Published February 10, 1808

A caricature shop with prints in its windows
is shown in the background


The prints became so popular that shops dedicated solely to caricature were established. Gentlemen and noble lords collected caricatures by the hundred in portfolios and bound volumes.

Caricaturists became international celebrities. In the early 1800s, one observer described the anticipation which surrounded the publication of James Gillray's work:

"The enthusiasm is indescribable when the next drawing appears; it is a veritable madness. You have to make your way in through the crowd with your fists ... "

Today, these prints exist as one of the only visual forms to document the historical events of the day, the moods of the public, and the fashions of clothing. This era came to be known as the golden age of the English engraver.

To be continued ...


– or a Hint to Country Gentlemen how to save their Fences.
by Williams
Published October 1827
by McClean Hay Market
8 5/8 x 12 7/8 in. With border, 9 5/8 x 13 9/16 in.

    Diana Donald, The Age of Caricature: Satirical Prints in the Reign of George III, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Yale University Press, 1996
    The Grove Dictionary of Art, © Copyright 2000 Macmillan Publishers Limited;
    M. Dorothy George, Hogarth to Cruikshank: Social change in Graphic Satire, Walker and Company, NY
    John Wardroper, The Caricatures of George Cruikshank, David R. Godine, 1978

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