The two history talks I gave were about these two Georgian period artists … Francis Wheatley (1747 – 1801) and James Gillray (1756 – 1815) …
We're learning something of the Georgian era (George I to George IV: 1714 - 1830) … which included the sub-period that is the Regency era (when George IV as Prince of Wales was regent during the illness of George III).
Some members of the group opt to give talks on different subjects - I'm usually the one that tends to break the mould … choosing something interests that me, rather than a subject suggested.
Wheatley (1747 - 1801) was an English portrait and landscape painter, who was brought up in and around Covent Garden … where the poor would hawk their wares …
He had an eventful career when his low point came in 1789 he was elected to the Royal Academy in preference to the King's nominee … that was that – he never secured another commission from the aristocracy.
|Preparing for market|
His career unravelled … yet in the middle of all the turmoil he had created these 'Cries of London', which were exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1792 and 1795 …
It is thought that his third wife, who became, after his death, Clara Maria Pope, was his model for the female hawkers shown in these paintings. There's a ginger and white terrier that often occurs throughout the series.
Various engravers of the time brought these 'Cries of London' to the public's attention – which have ever since remained in the nation's heart …
|The ballad seller|
… and prevail as part of our historical culture … featuring on chocolate boxes, biscuit tins and prints often found hanging in the houses of elderly relatives and the seaside hotels of our British childhoods.
Next came James Gillray … a caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires, mostly published between 1792 – 1810.
He's been called “the father of the political cartoon” … and who, along with Hogarth, became the two most influential cartoonists of the era.
|L'Assemblee Nationale (1804) -|
was called "the most talented caricature
that has ever appeared" partly due to its
admirable likenesses. The Prince of Wales
paid a large sum of money for it to be
suppressed and its plate destroyed.
Gillray's targets were the great and the good, not excepting royalty. But his vision is often dark, his wit frequently cruel and even shockingly bawdy: some of his own contemporaries found his work repellent.
|John Bull raising Napoleon's|
head just after landing in
He changed his art from embracing the French Revolution to being no longer hostile to King George III … creating John Bull, defending the realm from the French and Napoleon …
It just happened that a new book by a young highly applauded historian, Alice Loxton, has come out … of which the convenor of our history group sent me the review … so having ordered her book it awaits my eyes to be read: Uproar!: Satire, Scandal and Printmakers in Georgian London.
The other particularly noteworthy aspect about Gillray - was that he was a skilful writer, taking great pains over the text that accompanied his works …
|'Dublures' of Characters (1798)|
For further reference – should anyone wish to read my talks … I'd be happy to send them to you (they're not long) … together with a list of slides that illustrated both talks.
Spitalfields Life – has further details on Francis Wheatley and his 'Cries of London' together with relevant art works …
There will be various reviews of Alice Loxton's book and articles about James Gillray on the net …. Wikipedia has plenty of Gillray's cartoons.
I will get back to 'Our English Language' … I have lots of books to read first … but posts will occur!
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