About the Exhibition
To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of British caricaturist James Gillray (1756–1815), the Ashmolean presents more than 50 of Gillray’s finest caricatures from the outstanding collection of New College, Oxford.
James Gillray trained as a professional copyist at the Royal Academy and then staked his professional life on caricature, amongst the first generation of artists to do so. He produced more than a thousand prints, some the fruit of months of reflection, others banged out at lightning speed, responding to but also creating instant controversies on the very day of the event.
His prints were divisive and partisan: in 1798 a Tory Lord would congratulate him for having “been of infinite service in lowering them [the Whigs] and making them look ridiculous,” while the exiled Napoleon, well aware of Gillray’s anti-French propaganda, was reported to have said that the British engraver did more than all the armies of Europe to bring him down.
Love Bites: Caricatures by James Gillray is curated by Professor Todd Porterfield of the University of Montreal.
Image: Detail of ‘Enchantments lately seen upon the Mountains of Wales’, 1796 James Gillray (1756–1815) © The Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford / Bridgeman Images