Election-Candidates;-or- The Republican-Goose at the Top of the Polae.

Method Etching with hand colouring
Artist James Gillray
Published Pubd May 20th. 1807-by h. Humphrey 27. St James's Stre.
Dimensions Image 320 x 250 mm, Sheet 360 x 257 mm
Notes A fascinating satirical commentary on the Westminster election hustings of 1807. The full title of the print reads: "Election-Candidates;-or- The Republican-Goose at the Top of the Polae. [erased text] The Devil helping behind! - Vide. Mr Paul's Letter - Article - Horne Tooke - also, an exact representation of Sawney Mc Cochran flourishing the Cudgel of Naval Reform lent to him by Cobbett; & mounting Triumphantly over a small-beer-Barrel - together with an Old-Drury-Lane-Harlequin trying in vain to make a spring to ye Top of the Pole, his Broad-Bottom always bringing him down again! - & lastly, poor little Paul ye Taylor done over! - wounded by a Goose, & not a Leg to stand on - ."

The print is a riot of political and social observation and the cataloguing of this print in the British Museum describes the scene as "rival candidates swarm up a pole, inscribed 'Westminster Election', in front of the hustings in Covent Garden. At the top is Burdett with the body and beak of a goose. He is precariously poised on one webbed foot, the right leg hanging down, dripping blood from a wound in the thigh (from Paull's bullet), but he is supported by a pitchfork held by Horne Tooke, or the Devil, who stands astride the roof of the hustings. Tooke has webbed wings inscribed 'Deceit' and 'Sedition', cloven hoof and barbed tail, with round hat, coat, and clerical bands. Burdett's wings are 'Conceit' and 'Vanity'; his neck is stretched out towards an irradiated sun in the upper right. corner of the design, at which he is hissing, 'ssss [&c]' issuing from his beak. On the disk is a crown on a cushion; it is encircled by the words: 'The Sun of the Constitution'. Just below the goose is Cochrane, wearing the cocked hat and coat of a naval officer with striped seaman's trousers. He is active and agile, one hand on the pole, and one leg round it. In his right hand he holds up a bludgeon: 'Reform', shouting fiercely to the mob below; his right foot rests on the cask which encloses the paunchy body of the man below (Elliot), who is falling backwards. From his pocket issues a paper: 'Charges against St Vincent.' Below him legs and arms wildly outflung emerge from the cask which is inscribed 'Quassia' . The head of the falling cask, inscribed 'Elliots Home Br[ewed]', drops off, and its foaming contents pour down. Elliot drops a paper: 'Sixpenny Jack's Address'. Below Elliot, Sheridan, in his Harlequin suit, enormously fat, grasps the pole with arms and legs, making no progress. Below him Paull falls head foremost and in back view to the ground; he is dressed the same as in a the caricature BM Satires 10725 and his (wounded) left leg breaks above the top-boot. He drops his shears and a cabbage.

The hustings are crowded: one man addresses the mob; some are impassive, others wave their hats. On the supporting posts (two being obscured by the climbers up the pole) are placards indicating the Westminster parishes: 'St Pauls', 'St Giles' [not in Westminster], 'St James'. In front of the hustings is Burdett's mob with the traditional band of butchers banging marrow-bones and cleavers, with whom are two chimney-sweeps with brush and shovel. These are (from left to right) Windham, as a sweep, 'Burdett & Reformation' on his shovel; Temple, with 'Burdett & Popery' on his cleaver; Howick, with 'Burdett & Revenge' on his; Grenville, with 'Burdett and Opposition'. These three (as butchers) wear over-sleeves. Next is Petty as a sweep, with Burdett and Independence' on his shovel. On the right are hats only, one with a 'Burdett' favour. The mob is divided from the hustings by a barrier forming a lane in front of the poll-clerks who are in the front and lowest seat of the hustings. A bearded Jew is about to take the oath: a clerk with a pen in his mouth hands him a book. With the voters inside the barrier is a constable with his staff. On the roof of the hustings are a dead cat and vegetables. In the background is a sea of heads, a corner of the stand filled with spectators, and roofs and upper stories of houses in Covent Garden."

James Gillray (c.1756-1815), was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires. Born in Chelsea, Gillray studied letter-engraving, and was later admitted to the Royal Academy where he was influenced by the work of Hogarth. His caricature L'Assemblée Nationale (1804) gained huge notoriety when the Prince of Wales paid a large sum of money to have it suppressed and its plate destroyed. Gillray lived with his publisher and print-seller Miss (often called Mrs) Humphrey during the entire period of his fame. Twopenny Whist, a depiction of four individuals playing cards, is widely believed to feature Miss Humphrey as an ageing lady with eyeglasses and a bonnet. One of Gillray's later prints, Very Slippy-Weather, shows Miss Humphrey's shop in St. James's Street in the background. In the shop window a number of Gillray's previously published prints, such as Tiddy-Doll the Great French Gingerbread Maker [...] a satire on Napoleon's king-making proclivities, are shown in the shop window. His last work Interior of a Barber's Shop in Assize Time, from a design by Bunbury, was published in 1811. While he was engaged on it he became mad, although he had occasional intervals of sanity. Gillray died on 1 June 1815, and was buried in St James's churchyard, Piccadilly.

BM Satires 10732

Condition: Trimmed just inside plate, old repaired tear to top left of sheet and image, laid to archival tissue. Colours slightly faded.
Framing unmounted
Price £700.00
Stock ID 50999