London: H. Humphrey, 1798. Item #02603
Gillray Punctures Parliament
Complete and Exceedingly Scarce
[GILLRAY, James]. Habits of New French Legislators and other Public Functionaries. London: H. Humphrey, 1798.
First edition, complete; both series. Folio (platemarks c. 260 x 195 mm). Twelve hand-colored engravings, some stipple and aquatint, lettered with series title and plate number 1-12 above the image, lettered below the image with the title in French, engraver's name A"J.s.G.y.d. & f.t. and the publication line. Housed loose in a blue cloth portfolio. A very fine set.
Not in Abbey, Tooley, or Ray. The copy in the British Museum Satires collection is incomplete. OCLC records only one complete copy, at the BNF.
Only two complete copies at auction within the last ninety years, in 1926 and 1956.
James Gillray (1756 or 1757 - 1815), was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810. The name of Gillray's publisher and print seller, Miss Hannah Humphrey is inextricably associated with that of the caricaturist. Gillray lived with Miss (often called Mrs) Humphrey during the entire period of his fame. It is believed that he several times thought of marrying her, and that on one occasion the pair were on their way to the church, when Gillray said: "This is a foolish affair, methinks, Miss Humphrey. We live very comfortably together; we had better let well alone."
The times in which Gillray lived were peculiarly favourable to the growth of a great school of caricature. Party warfare was carried on with great vigour and not a little bitterness; and personalities were freely indulged in on both sides. Gillray's incomparable wit and humour, knowledge of life, fertility of resource, keen sense of the ludicrous, and beauty of execution, at once gave him the first place among caricaturists. He is honorably distinguished in the history of caricature by the fact that his sketches are real works of art. The ideas embodied in some of them are sublime and poetically magnificent in their intensity of meaning, while the forthrightness - which some have called coarseness -which others display is characteristic of the general freedom of treatment common in all intellectual departments in the 18th century. The historical value of Gillray's work has been recognized by many discerning students of history.
"Gillray's treatment ranged from the heroic to the broadly comic, but his excesses at either extreme are excused to the discerning student because of the presence of that relevant satire which distinguishes caricature from crude foolishness...When Gillray [as here] illustrated his suspicion that [Sir Charles] Fox and others were inclining towards the advanced ideas of the French revolutionaries sans-culottes, by drawing them always without any trousers, he produced 'vulgarity' but not silliness. Fox was much incensed" (David Low, British Cartoonists. p. 12-13).
Pub.d April 18, 1798:
1. Le Ministre d'Etat, en Grand Costume [Mr. Fox].
2. Le Membres du Conseil des Anciens [Duke of Norfolk, the Marquis of Sansdown, Duke of Grafton].
3. Le Membres du Conseil des Cinq Cents [Mr. Byng, Michaelangelo Taylor, Lord Lauderdale, Lord Stanhope, Lord Derby].
4. Membre de Directoire Executif [ Francis Duke of Bedford].
5. President d'Administration Municipale [Horne Looke].
6. Le Boureau [ Mr. Tierney].
Pub.d May 21, 1798:
1. L'Avocat de la Republique [Lord Erskine].
2. Membre de la Haute Cour de Justice [Sir George Shuckborough].
3. Juge de Tribunal Correctionnel [ Mr. Courtney].
4. Juge de Paix [Mr. Nical].
5. Le Tresorier [ Sir William Putney].
6. Messager d'Eatat [Sir Francis Burdett].
Cf. BM Satires 9197-9201, 9208-13. Wright and Evans 185-196.