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.
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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