Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Print Shop Window has moved!

Thomas Rowlandson, Miseries of Travelling, 1807

Blogger has been very good to us over the years but the time has come for us to pack up our belongings, wave goodbye to the neighbours and head off for pastures new. 

This site will remain open for archive purposes but all new material will now be added to our new home over at Wordpress. We hope to see you there soon: 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

George Cruikshank, '...The Parisian Blood Red Republic', 1871

As this print wasn’t published until 1871, I feel like a bit of a cheat posting an image of it on a blog that usually concerns itself with the history of visual satire in the Georgian period. However in this case I think we can make an exception, not only because it was one of the last prints produced by the eminent Georgian caricaturist and illustrator George Cruikshank but also because the image itself is so obviously a deliberate attempt to evoke the spirit and style the so-called ‘golden age of British caricature’. And besides, it's such a fantastic-looking print that I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to prattle on about it. 

It was engraved and published by the 79 year old Cruikshank during June 1871, shortly after the Paris Commune had been decisively crushed by the French army following several days of open warfare on the city’s streets. Here the Communard forces are depicted as a gigantic wild-eyed demon that comes stomping towards the viewer through the burning ruins like a socialist version of Godzilla. As it bears down on us it repeatedly blares the refrain “Blasphemy, Ignorance, Folly”, whilst waving a blood-soaked dagger and a large red flag that is emblazed with the snappy manifesto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Atheism, or A Disbelief in God!!!, Seizure of all property and death to all who oppose the Red Republic”.  The pole which carries the flag is actually an inverted spear that has been capped with a skull wearing the Phrygian cap of liberty. A scroll has been attached to the cap which reads: “The Blood Red Cap of Liberty. Manufactured in 1789 and made Red with Blood in 1790 - 91 - 92 & 93. Bottles carrying the twin elixirs of violent revolution - Brandy and Petroleum - hang from the creature's belt and its head is crowned with a blood-drench fools cap. The legend emblazend across the top of the design informs the viewer that this vision is "An Awful Lesson to the World for All Time to Come!". The caption at the foot of the image is as follows: 

Fifty thousand slaughtered dead bodies of men women & children lying in Paris at the end of May 1871 and part of the city destroyed by fire!!!

The Leader of the Parisian Blood Red Republic, or the Infernal Fiend! 

For no deeds more Fiendish were ever perpetrated in the history of man than those committed & caused by the "Red Republicans" in the late revolt. It was these ignorant drunken brutes who in a great measure brought about the war with Germany, which has ended in the dishonor of their country & in tens of thousands of their fellow countrymen being killed or wounded & also the death and infamy of many women & chidren, and by their insane attempt to Paris & rule France, they have further caused the slaughter of thousands of men, women & children, as well as the destruction of their city & many of its treasures and by misleading women & driving them with drink, have caused them to act in such a way that the enraged soldiers in their fury have shot down & slaughtered women of Paris, young & old as if they were wild beasts!!!____ As there is a "Red Republican" party in this country, some national means should be taken to show these mistaken men that such plans if carried out would not only destroy the laws of civilized society but also by subverting the laws of nature and therefore a law should be passed to make it criminal for such insane principles to be advocated. 

The real target of Cruikshank's satire was therefore not the Communards themselves - most of whom were either in jail or quitely decomposing in the grounds of Pere Lachaise Cemetary by the time the artist sat down to engrave this image - but British socialists who sought to bring about similarly radical political, social and economic reforms at home. In April 1871 representatives of Britain's bourgeois press had watched with disgust as a crowd of several thousand workers paraded through London waving red banners carrying slogans such as "Vive La Commune" and "Long Live the Universal Republic". The march then converged on Hyde Park where, after listening to speeches and singing several renditions of the Marsailles, the crowd loudly endorsed the reading of a public addresses which hailed the Commune as "a ressurection of the glorious era of the First French Republic". The Telegraph, ever the shrill voice of middle England, thundered that the Communards were little more than "assassins" and "convicts", while the Daily News confidently asserted that "even the most humane" of its middle class readers "would not be too scrupulous about the repressive measures which might be necessary" to ensure the movement was stamped out. 

Commentators on the right were just as keen to reach back and appropriate rhetoric and imagery associated with the French Revolution. Hostile press articles at the time were littered with references to Robespierre, the Terror and the Napoleonic Wars, as the conservative news agencies sought to remind misguided members of the working classes of the speed with which the idealism of 1789 had been swept away by the atrocities of the Committee of Public Safety and a military dictatorship under Bonaparte. This particular image was evidently intended to ape the loyalist political satires that had appeared during Britain in the early 1790s and the era of Peterloo and to remind Britons of the response with which their grandfathers had greeted a previous generation of Frenchified political radicals. The fact that the design was produced by Cruikshank - the only living artist with a direct connection to the popular art of the Napoleonic era - was obviously significant and no doubt intended to increase both the satirical punch and commercial appeal of the print. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Anon., 'Porcupine in Colours, Just Portray'd', c.1796

Historians of eighteenth century visual satire have had a tendency to draw unflattering comparisons between the caricatures that were published in the United States in the years after the War of Independence and those which were being produced on the other side of the Atlantic by the British masters of the genre at that time. Such assessments often lead the historian to adopt the language of the estate agent; describing American prints as ‘rustic’ or ‘modest’ if they are feeling tactful and ‘rudimentary’ or ‘crude’ if they are not. With British prints remaining ubiquitous in most studies of eighteenth century visual culture it is easy to see why some commentators may fall into the trap of constantly comparing everything to the standards set by Gillray, Rowlandson and others, but such assessments are ultimately misleading and unhelpful as they ignore the radically different socio-economic contexts in which British and American printmakers operated. Sweeping statements about the comparatively low standard of American caricature prints in this period are also often inaccurate, as there were a handful of American engravers that were capable of turning out work that was every bit as good as the prints one would have expected to see lining the windows of the print shops of Piccadilly and St Paul's Churchyard in London. 

The print shown here is perhaps one of the finest examples of late eighteenth century American political caricature that I've come across. Although it was published anonymously, the subject matter would suggest that it was probably produced in Philadelphia to sometime during 1796-7. The unidentified engraver was clearly an individual of some considerable technical ability and was able to make judicious and skillful use of more complex engraving techniques, such as intaglio and line and stippling, that do not typically appear on American prints of this period. Several elements of the design are reminiscent of the style of emblematic printing caricature that had been popular in Europe before the 1780s and it’s possible that an earlier British print may have been used as a template to create the images of Liberty, the Devil and the British lion. 

The caricature is one of a number of highly personalised attacks on the journalist William Cobbett that was to appear in the Philadelphia press in the run up to the 1796 general election. Cobbett is a somewhat obscure figure in American history today but was widely acknowledged at the time as being one of the most eloquent and outspoken proponents of Federalism and of Anglo-American rapprochement. He had emigrated to the United States from Great Britain in the spring of 1792 with the intention of starting a new life as a teacher but was gradually drawn into political journalism by a desire to speak out in defence of the policies of his native country. Cobbett later recalled that his moment of epiphany finally came when “One of my scholars… chose, for once, to read his newspaper by way of lesson… and seemed delighted with the invectives against England… Those Englishmen who have been abroad… will know how difficult it is, upon occasions such as I have been describing, to refrain from expressing their indignation and resentment… The dispute was as warm as might reasonably be expected… and the result of was, a declared resolution on my part, to write and publish a pamphlet in defense of my own country.”

In 1794 Cobbett finally put pen to paper and began publishing a series of Federalist political tracts under the pseudonym ‘Peter Porcupine’. His works proved to be surprisingly popular, with pamphlets such as Bone to Gnaw for the Democrats and A Little Plain English selling through several editions and eventually being republished in Britain. The syndication of his work overseas allowed Cobbett to form commercial connections with members of the London publishing trade and in July 1796 he was able to open a bookshop opposite Christ’s Church on Philadelphia’s Second Street that specialised in the sale of imported English books and prints. By then Cobbett had effectively cast aside the mantle of American citizenship and begun styling himself as an English observer whose job it was to advise the young nation on the dangers posed by her misguided adherence to the “democratic principles” of her erstwhile French ally.

The response of the Republican press was blisteringly emphatic and a slew of pamphlets with titles like A Pill for Porcupine, A Twig of Birch for a Butting Calf, and A Little Innocent Porcupine’s Hornet’s Nest appeared in order to ram home the argument that Cobbett was a closet monarchist and a British quisling. Prints were also evidently used as another weapon in this partisan war and the image here contains a neat visual summary of many of the charges that were commonly levelled at Cobbett and his associates. The writer has been transformed into a literal version of his porcupine alter ego and is shown squatting malevolently over a pile of writing papers, pen in hand, putting the finishing touches to an epistle entitled “I hate this country and will sow the seeds of discord in it”. With his hind legs he tramples a sheaf of papers that are marked with titles of anti-monarchist tracts and the names of Republican politicians that he feels “have too much merit”. A British lion wearing the crown of monarchy stands to Cobbett’s right, crushing an American flag, a cap of liberty inscribed ‘Magna Charta’ and papers representing the various treaties concluded between England and France during the previous decade. It exhorts Cobbett to keep up his efforts with the words: “Go on dear Peter, my friend & I will reward you”. A jaybird, representing the American diplomat John Jay, merrily rides along on the lion’s back whilst holding a copy of the 1795 “Treaty of Amity & Commerce” between Britain and the United States in its beak. Its presence suggests that the treaty has violated US neutrality and placed America at odds with the cause of liberty, whilst the proximity of the tattered remains for former Anglo-French treaties leave us in little doubt about the artist’s view of Britain’s willingness to abide by the terms of the agreement. The figure of a huge Federalist demon with the word “Traytor” engraved on its chest, looms up behind the British lion and says “More scandal, let us destroy this idol liberty”, as it offers Cobbett a large bag of money as a reward for his work. The image of a phoenix flying through the skies above serves to act as a final symbolic reminder of the immutable nature of the threat to liberty and of the need for constant vigilance.  

On the left we can see Liberty turning away from the scene to weep in despair. Her staff and Phrygian cap are now supported by a giant American eagle which glares angrily across at the symbols representing the Federalists and their British allies. The pedestal against which Liberty consoles herself is engraved with the worlds "Independence declared 4th July 1776" and a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. Its base is surrounded by papers inscribed with "1500 Ame[erica]n seamen impressed by the British", "600 ships adjudicated" and other phrases which remind the viewer of the damages inflicted by the Royal Navy's harassment of American shipping. A copy of the 1778 treaty of alliance between France and the United States which has been pointedly torn asunder lies next to the evidence of British depredations. 

The verse at the foot of the print reads: 

See porcupine, in colours just portray'd
Urg'd by Old Nick [the Devil], to drive his dirty trade
Veil'd in darkness, acts the assassins part,
And triumphs much to stab you in the heart

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Political Cartoon for the Year 1775

The Westminister Magazine or The Pantheon of Taste was published in London between January 1773 and December 1785 by a printer and aspiring man of letters named Thomas Wright.  Wright was a respected critic and an acknowledged expert on the works of the Anglo-Irish novelist, poet and playwright Oliver Goldsmith and as consequence of this had managed to inveigle his way into London’s leading literary circles by the late 1760s. The Westminster Magazine was Wright’s attempt to produce a publication that offered a highbrow alternative to the more practical and suspiciously bourgeois content on offer in the rival Gentlemen’s Magazine.  The majority of the publication was therefore given over to book reviews, poetry and essays on subjects ranging from the cultural practices of the natives of the newly discovered continent of Australia, through to abstract musings on the strictures of delicacy. News and editorial analysis also accounted for roughly a third of the content of each new edition and big stories were often accompanied by an engraved satirical plate. Most of these caricatures were published anonymously and may have been engraved by Wright or one of his employees but larger and more complex commissions were occasionally turned over to the engraver John Walker, who ran his own publishing business on Paternoster Row.
Anon., The Political Cartoon for the Year 1775, published in the Westminster Magazine, 1st May 1775

The war between Britain and her American colonies dominated much of the news that appeared in the Westminster Magazine from 1775 onwards and the print shown here originally appeared in the May 1775 edition. At the centre of the image is an open carriage, pulled by two horses named 'Pride' and 'Obstinacy', which is about to be driven into a precipice by Lord Mansfield. Mansfield had spoken out in favour of a more coercive approach to the North American colonies, arguing that “what passed in Boston… was an overt act of High Treason proceeding from our over lenity and want of foresight” and was commonly suspected of being the author of the Intolerable Acts that had been brought into effect during the previous year. George III sits alongside Mansfield in the carriage and dozes in a sleep which renders him utterly oblivious to the danger of his situation. In his hand he holds a piece of paper inscribed with the words “I Glory in the Name of Englishman”. This is an ironic reference to the inaugural speech which George had delivered to Parliament following his coronation, in which he had intimated that he desired to break with his family’s obsession with European politics and focus on the interests of Britain’s overseas empire. The Earl of Bute rides along behind the king in the manner of a footman. In his hands he holds a sword which symbolises the British policy of military coercion and a sheaf of papers labelled “Places”, “Pensions” and “Reversions”. Bute had been out of office for over a decade by the time this print was published but it was erroneously assumed that he continued to exercise and malign and reactionary influence over government policy. To the left of the carriage a collection of Bute’s Scottish acolytes gather around a table to carve up the public offices of Great Britain, whilst a collection of Anglican bishops scrabble like wayside beggars to grab the symbols of preferment that are thrown down from the speeding coach.  Pitt the Elder, Lord Camden and another outspoken supporter of the colonial cause (possibly Wilkes) run along behind the carriage in a manner which suggests they are attempting to wake the sleeping monarch and alert him to the impending danger. The validity of their case is underscored by the fact that the coach tramples over copies of Magna Charta and the constitution as it races towards the edge of the cliff. A motley crowd, consisting of MPs and their constituents, fills the foreground of the image. Money bags are being proffered with a knowing glance on the part of the politicians and it is clear that the multifarious acts of bribery and corruption have distracted the British electorate from the impending destruction of the British coach of state.  Above the scene a demon gleefully flies away with a sack labelled ‘National Credit’ in a clear warning about the economic costs of further escalation of the colonial conflict. At the far left of the image, across a body of water, we see a city labelled ‘America’ which had been set alight by the fires of war. 

The print was probably issued in response to early reports of the fighting that had broken out around Lexington and Concord during the previous month. It was one of a number of anti-ministerial images to appear in the early phases of the war between Britain and her North American colonies and the explanatory note which was published alongside the image strikes a suitably angry tone: describing the king as a “lifeless charioteer”, denouncing the Anglican clergy as “S[win]es, laying down their insignia and dignity for the purpose of feeding on garbage” and calling Parliament as a collection of “Adventurers – Pimps – Waiters – Old Cloathesmen, &c.” To continue along the current path, we are told, will result in “UNIVERSAL BANKRUPTCY & ANNIHILATION”.

We should be careful to confuse the meaning of the word 'cartoon' from the print's title. Contemporary viewers would have understood this as the name given to the preparatory sketch for a serious piece of art work and in this context its use is clearly part of the satire; suggesting that an image of George III plunging over a cliff edge was a worthy of being encapsulated in oils. The modern meaning of the term cartoon did not become common until the mid-1800s and does not appear in the Oxford English Dictionary until 1863. 

The Library of Congress of print holds a version of this print with contemporary hand-colouring but I’ve been unable determine whether the print was issued in this state, or whether the image was coloured separately after it had been purchased. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Robert Seymour, John Bull's Night Mare, c.1828

Regular readers will have probably worked out that prints dealing with the subject of English radicalism are a particular interest of mine. I was therefore feeling more than a little pleased with myself when I managed to add a cheap(ish)  copy of Robert Seymour’s John Bull’s Night Mare to my collection a couple of weeks ago. The print was published sometime during the winter of 1827-28 and is a reflection on the uncertain state of British politics during the weeks leading up to the collapse of Viscount Goderich’s coalition government. Specifically, it is a satire on members of the partisan press who began to issue hysterical warnings about the disastrous consequences that would arise as a result of their political opponents being invited to form the next government. It's an absolutely cracking example of Seymour's work and the prolific use of troubling imagery associated with sickness, violence and death, perhaps gives us more of an insight into the mind of the artist (who would go on to commit suicide in 1836) than the more conventionally humorous engravings with which he is more typically associated. 
Robert Seymour, John Bull's Night Mare, Published by T. McLean, c.1828

A sickly-looking John Bull lies in bed and is beset by phantoms that personify the supposed horrors of radicalism and reactionary ultra-toryism. Demonic creatures representing violent revolution, popery, atheism and republicanism are conjured up to embody the threat from left-wing radicals, whilst the dangers of Toryism are represented by padlocked grain sacks and a national debt which slowly crushes John under its weight. Meanwhile an array of disembodied hands emerge from the mist that surrounds the bed, proffering cures that range from the "Tory Bolus" to the "Wig [sic] Balsam”. Neither cure seems to have had an effect and it appears as though this is a nightmare from which the unfortunate John Bull in unable to wake.   

The print is one of a large number of caricatures to exploit the central motif from Henry Fuseli’s painting The Night Mare. Fuseli’s decision to discard the conventions of realism and narrative in favour of an exaggerated and highly emotive style of painting meant that his work naturally lent itself to the medium of caricature. Gillray used Fuseli as the basis for at least eight of his caricatures and variations on the theme of The Night Mare were produced by Rowlandson, Newton, Sayers, George Cruikshank and a host of lesser caricaturists.  

Saturday, 2 March 2013

George Cruikshank, The Queen that Jack Found, 1820

During the summer of 1820 the attention of the British public was briefly and comprehensively captivated by the lurid spectacle of the Queen Caroline affair. "It was the only question I have ever known", wrote the radical essayist William Hazlitt, "that excited a thorough popular feeling. It struck its roots into the heart of the nation; it took possession of every house and cottage in the kingdom..." and in even the remotest corners of the country, where people normally knew "as little of radicalism as they do of necromancy", the royal divorce was still all that anyone could talk about. 

Although the affair was little more than the latest episode in a long-running royal soap opera which had begun on the very day of George's wedding to Caroline of Brunswick, when the reluctant and heavily inebriated groom had been carried up the aisle and stood sobbing as he recited his wedding vows, the uproar it created was about much more than the louche domestic arrangements of the royal family. With the country grinding its way through a protracted and severe postwar recession, under a reactionary Tory government which had already proved that it would not stop short of using the army to crush popular dissent, the royal divorce acquired a symbolic weight that went way beyond its actual importance. 

The British press rushed to meet the sudden demand for news of the trial and the arguments of both radical and loyalist commentators were played out ad nauseum in volley after volley of pamphlets that were often decorated with caricature illustrations. William Hone’s seminal 1819 pamphlet The Political House that Jack Built provided the template for most of these texts and George Cruikshank, Hone’s illustrator, was bombarded with commissions from both radical and loyalist publishers who wanted him to produce caricatures for their own pamphlets. 

The example shown here was illustrated by Cruikshank for John Fairburn of Ludgate Hill. I believe this is the first time it has been reproduced online.

Frontispiece: A flattering bust of Queen Caroline, crowned by a glowing halo containing the word 'truth', is mounted on a pedestal engraved with laurel leaves. Britannia, who sits to the left of the image, casts her shield arm up towards the Queen in a manner that suggests admiration and protection. The lion which sits at Britannia's feet has crushed the serpent of 'Persecution' which spews forth a stream of effluent marked 'Lies', whilst the goddess Minerva, on the right, tramples on a similar serpent that bears the label 'Combination' (conspiracy). 

Pages 1 & 2: The pamphlet opens with a dedication to Matthew Wood. Wood was a City alderman at the time of the trail and also represented the City of London in Parliament. He had been one of the Queen's most outspoken advocates and had been instrumental in persuading her to return to Britain to assert her rights as Queen.

Pages 3: The verse begins under an image of a rustic John Bull kneeling to greet Caroline as she steps back onto the British shore. John's attitude of adulation is imitated by a large crowd that has gathered around the Queen's boat in the middle ground of the image. The legitimacy of Caroline's claim to throne is underscored by the symbolic presence of the crown and sceptre and by her royal standard, which flies prominently from the turrets of a castle on the cliffs behind her. 

Page 4: A rear view of King George IV. It is an image which seems to have been deliberately designed to accentuate the monarch's ungainly appearance and imply idiocy. He stands, legs thrust apart and hands on hips, in a manner which is reminiscent of a pantomime dame. Numerous badges and medals have been attached to the back of George's clothing in an attempt to suggest that the King's vanity was such that he would sew honours onto the seat of his breaches. In his hands he holds a sword labelled 'Waterloo' and a sceptre marked 'Divorce'. His feet pointedly rest upon torn scraps of paper that have the words 'Honour' and 'Virtue' written on them. The image of this regal ignoramus is finished off with a crown that is liberally decorated with the bells of a traditional fools cap. 

Page 6: In 1814 George IV had dispatched the Hanoverian officer Baron Friedrich von Ompteda to Italy in order to see if he could find evidence which would substantiate the rumours that Caroline was engaged in an illicit affair with her Italian aide. Ompteda was introduced into the Queen's household and bribed one of her servants so that he could conduct a fruitless search her rooms. He is shown here breaking into the Queen's bureau and furtively rifling through her papers in the manner of a common thief. 

Page 8: A portrait of Lieutenant Hownan, a member of the Queen's household who had publicly exposed Ompteda's duplicity after learning that the German had attempted to acquire copies of the keys to Caroline's bedchamber. Ompteda can be seen fleeing into the distance in the rear of the image. 

Page 10: During the trial it was reported that King George had insisted on having Caroline's name struck from the liturgy that was published at the front of all new Anglican prayer books. The Archbishop of Canterbury had initially voice doubts about taking such a drastic and unconstitutional step but had eventually acquiesced when put under pressure from the King and senior Tories in the Cabinet. This provoked outrage among many on the left, who saw it as evidence of the established church colluding with the monarch and the government to subvert the principles of the British constitutional settlement. In summing the matter up at the trial the Queen's barrister concluded his statement with the explosive deceleration that "had I been the Archbishop of Canterbury on such an occasion,  I would have thrown the Liturgy in his Majesty's face, before I would have been party to such a fraud upon the law, such an outrage on all justice and humanity."

The greedy, debauched, clergyman had been a stock figure in English caricature since the early 1700s and here Cruikshank draws heavily on this tradition to present us with a grotesque version of Charles Manners-Sutton, the Archbishop of Canterbury. In his hands he holds a copy of the amended liturgy and a set of keys which are the symbol of Papist absolutism. Under his foot is a trampled piece of paper marked with the words 'common sense'. 

Page 12: A caricature of a rather devious looking Sir John Leach KC. Before entering Parliament in 1806 Leach had built up a successful legal practice in Surrey and become infamous in the courts of equity for his terse and aggressive style of cross-examination. The first eight years of his political career were largely unremarkable but his rock solid Toryism and willingness to shamelessly toady up to members of the royal family gradually brought him to the attention of those higher up the political food chain. By 1818 Leach had managed to thoroughly ingratiate himself into the British establishment by leading parliamentary opposition to a Whig motion calling for an examination into the costs of running the Price Regent's household. His efforts were rewarded with a knighthood, a seat on the Privy Council, the Vice Chancellorship of England and a number of well-paid sinecures. Leach was called on to advise George on how he might legally rid himself of his unwanted wife and had recommended the investigation into Caroline's affairs which eventually became known as the Milan Commission. In 1820 Leach was appointed to act as prosecutor on behalf of the Crown and his shown here holding a scroll with 'lies' written on it repeatedly. In his other hand he carries the infamous 'green bag' which supposedly contained the evidence against Caroline but which the Tories had fought tooth and nail to avoid having to make public. 

Page 15: Alderman Matthew Wood strikes a suitably heroic pose in this image. He clutches a paper to his chest entitled 'Defence of Virtue' whilst he tramples 'oppression' and 'tyranny' under his feet. In the background we can see St Paul's and the spires of the City. Wood was feted for his outspoken defence of the Queen's rights during the summer of 1820 but by the inter of that year a loyalist backlash against the radicals had set in an a number of caricatures appeared which suggested that Wood and other members of the Queen's party had acted purely in order to secure valuable sinecures that were within her gift. 

Page 18: The King had initially entertained hopes of buying Caroline off and had dispatched Lord Hutchinson to Europe in order to intercept the Queen and offer her an annual allowance of £50,000 if she would agree to remain abroad. Caroline refused and then immediately publicised the fact that the British government had tried to bribe her with public money. This provoked uproar in Parliament and the Whig MP Henry Grey Bennet launched a wonderfully sarcastic assault on the government benches when he stood up an exclaimed that he gave no credit to the reports of bribery because

I can never give credit to the statement, that a British ministry, without the authority and consent of parliament, would have dared to call upon the queen of Great Britain to divest herself of that title which she holds by the same right as the king himself does his title, for a bribe of £50,000. a year—a bribe too, not to be paid by the king himself, but to be taken out of the pockets of the people of England, labouring under the severest distresses, and to be given to a person, who, if the statements circulated against her were true, was not alone unworthy of being the queen of England, but of being allowed to place her foot upon its shore. There are no words strong enough to convey an adequate impression of such a proposition. To call it treason to the monarchy, might be considered extravagant, but I cannot consider it less than an act of treachery to the monarchy of Great Britain. 

The vision of Hutchinson we are presented with here shows him as the perfect picture of obsequious mendacity. He leans forward and offers us a view of two pieces of paper, one entitled '£50,000 per annum' and the other 'Impeachment'. Suggesting that Caroline is being offered a choice between accepting the bribe and being publicly stripped of her title. 

Page 21: Lords Liverpool, Castlereagh and Sidmouth (serving as Prime Mister, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary respectively) tie up a green bag holding the evidence against the Queen which will be presented to both Houses of Parliament. Liverpool and his political allies were loathed by the radicals, who accused them of pursuing policies which had exacerbated a severe post-war slump and introducing repressive legislation designed to strangle legitimate calls for political and economic reform. The attempt to impeach the Queen was simply seen as further proof of the government's disregard for the constitution and its willingness to exercise arbitrary power in order to suit the ends of the British establishment. 

Page 24: "The Gentlemen that John Bull admires" are the Queenite MPs Sir Francis Burdett (who symbolically holds a copy of the Bill of Rights), John Cam Hobhouse. The 

Page 27: In June 1820 the evangelical MP William Wilberforce had attempted to broker a compromise to the emerging crisis by putting forward a parliamentary motion calling on Caroline to return to Europe in exchange for a generous financial settlement and superficial recognition of her rights as queen. The motion was passed by Parliament but cut little ice with Caroline, whose own position had hardened once she arrived in Britain and saw the strength of public support for her cause. Nor did it go down well with a public whose opinions had polarised and which had little time for compromise on the issue. Wilberforce found a large crowd had gathered to greet him when he arrived to present his proposals to the Queen and the second he stepped out of his carriage he was assailed with boos, hisses and shouts of 'Doctor Cantwell'. The interview itself was a short one and Wilberforce was given just enough time to present his proposals before being dismissed to once more run the gauntlet of the hostile mob.  

Wilberforce stands in a large barrel, which bears the label 'Tale of a Tub', with his arms held high in the exaggerated manner of an evangelical preacher in full flow. He preaches, "Yea, verily Brethren, I, even I, have been weighed in the Balance and found wanting" In one hand he holds out a 'Vote of Justification', in the other an 'Act of Excommunication'. The barrel has a double meaning as 'tub' was commonly used as a derogatory slang term for the pulpit of a dissenting chapel and it is also intended as a reference to A Tale of a Tub, Johnathan Swift's famous satire on pointless rhetorical digressions. The caricature therefore is clearly intended to cast Wilberforce as an evangelical busybody whose sophistry was designed to deliberately undermine public support for the wronged Queen. 

Page 31: The Queen addresses a respectable looking crowd of Londoners from the balcony of Wood's house. Wood and Lady Hamilton, one of the Queen's closest friends in England, stand on the balcony behind her. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Printed Pottery, Cossack Mode of Attack, c.1813

Here at the Print Shop Window there’s nothing we like more than a nice bit of printed pottery.

Here are a couple of images of a jug that was manufactured in England sometime during 1813. We can tell this because the sides of the pot have been decorated with a pair of caricature designs that were both published in London during January of that year. The fact that these particular designs were selected for use on pottery perhaps gives us some indication of their popularity at the time. 

Cossack Mode of Attack is based upon an English copy of one of the plates from ABCs of the Year 1812 by the Russian caricaturist Ivan Terebenev. A number of Terebenev’s designs were picked up by British printsellers in 1813 and then reworked as full-blown copperplate engravings which could be sold to discerning English audiences.

Boney’s Return from Russia to Paris appears to have been adapted from The Arch Design, Intended for Boney’s Triumphal Entry into Paris!!! which was engraved by George Cruikshank for John Johnston’s shop on Cheapside. The original design was evidently far too complex to be successfully reproduced on pottery and the potter has limited himself to a reproduction of the central figure of Napoleon fleeing in terror on an emaciated French cavalry horse.