From the Pen of James Gillray
15 February – 7 June 2019
James Gillray, savage satirist, cruel cartoonist and biting political commentator, wielded a power with his pen that few could match in Georgian Britain. His grotesquely exaggerated and wicked caricatures mercilessly ridiculed and poured scorn on politicians, celebrities and royalty alike.
The visceral and subversive nature of Gillray’s Georgian humour knew no bounds. From the underbelly of British life and the cut-throat business of politics, through to nationalistic squabbles with European neighbours and intensifying notions of ‘Britishness’, all offered a rich seam for Gillray to prod and poke fun at. At the height of his creative powers in the 1790s Gillray’s pen turned out an incessant medley of acidic attacks on everything from insidious tax increases, failed trade missions and constitutional reform, through to the terrors of the French Revolution, war and the threat of imminent invasion.
200 years on, his often ruthless, sometimes gruesome, but always sharp and sophisticated satires have never been more amusing or relevant.
Drawing on an extraordinary collection of Gillray’s works, a life-time creation by collector Donald Coverdale, Savage Satire draws many parallels between Gillray’s world and today’s current affairs.