Exhibition: Love Bites – Caricatures by James Gillray

The History of Love

To mark 200 years since satirist James Gillray’s death, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is currently holding an exhibition in his honour. During his lifetime he created over 1000 prints, and here on display is a group of 60 examples ostensibly held together by heartstrings – they explore the artist’s often scathing view of love, sex. marriage, friendship and political allegiance in Georgian England, as well as his talent for lampooning his contemporaries.

It offers a refreshing look at Gillray from a perspective coloured more by human intimacy and alliance than the usual political division and grotesquery – we are even treated to William Pitt the Younger as a Poldark-style shirtless Adonis (alright, probably Apollo, technically). Swoon.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 18.36.31

William Pitt the hunk (& a few obligatory Frenchmen with no pants on in the background), from Light Expelling Darkness(1795)

Instead of drooling, eyeball-devouring French revolutionaries, or George III defecating on France, or Napoleon merrily wallowing…

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2 thoughts on “Exhibition: Love Bites – Caricatures by James Gillray

  1. We need a modern Gillray. Imagine what he would make of the recent love triangles of the royals! He would be ruthless with Charles and Camilla, and Lady Di would have suffered immeasurably. More power to him, and welcome back any time, as far as I am concerned!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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