The Pic-nic Orchestra Germans Eating Sour-Krout
The Gout Lordly
The Plumb-Pudding
in Danger

Perhaps the first professional caricaturist in England, James Gillray (1757-1815) was trained in the Royal Academy as a reproductive engraver, but soon struck out on his own, producing satirical prints and political cartoons for London printsellers. The public relished his vitriolic wit, his virtuoso draftsmanship, and his audacious attacks on George III, Napoleon, and other celebrities of his day. Gillray made his living from his prints, and traded in them so extensively that he actually lived in a printseller's shop, where they were displayed in the front windows for sale to passersby. In his later years, Gillray suffered from ill-health, drinking problems, failing eyesight, and fits of madness, which became so severe that he had to be confined to an attic above the printshop just before he died. The Graphic Arts Collection has over two hundred Gillray prints, nearly all the gift of Dickson Q. Brown, who obtained them to supplement his Rowlandson collection. In the work of these two satiric geniuses, born in the same year, one can see remarkably similar themes rendered in different styles, from divergent points if view, and with varying degrees of indignation.

There are periods in history, the Renaissance for example, when not one but several artists are noted for their brilliant achievements in the same discipline. The period of the Regency (1811-20) inspired outstanding practitioners of caricature, Rowlandson and Gillray, who were close contemporaries, apt students of Hogarth, and worthy tutors to Cruikshank, who began where they left off with his own diatribes against the Regent. While working in a similar fashion, each of these artists puts an individual stamp on their creations. Here is Gillray's slant.