Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim tollere humo

Method Etching with hand colouring
Artist James Gillray
Published J. Gillray fec. &c. London, Publish'd August 8th, 1810 by H. Humphrey, 17 St. James's Street [Henry Bohn edition, c.1851]
Dimensions Image 505 x 380 mm, Plate 510 x 395 mm
Notes The Bohn printing of Gillray's satirical representation of the installation of William Grenville as Chancellor of the University of Oxford during Encaenia, on the 3rd of July 1810. The scene is set in a confected Oxford, with the Radcliffe Camera and the Towers and Chapel of All Souls suggesting Radcliffe Square, but with Christ Church's Tom Tower prominent to the right. Grenville, a prominent supporter of Catholic emancipation, is shown at centre, wearing a long-sleeved cassock and papal crown. His corpulent form, emblazoned with a large crucifix, is squeezed into a shallow basket of a balloon, its decoration recalling a communion bowl. The balloon itself is actually the grossly inflated Lord Temple, Grenville's cousin, who is held in place by a net with a leak from his backside issuing forth a stream of gas labelled 'Promisses.' Grenville, with arms outstretched, distributed largess in the form of pamphlets, a cardinals hat, rosaries, and a bishops' mitre to the waiting crowds of the Encaenia below. In the foreground, a trio of bishops raise their arms to grab at the falling favours, while their asses prostrate themselves before the balloon. To the right, a crowd of Doctors in black masks also offer their congratulations, with mortar boards held aloft. The notable exemption is Richard Brinsley Sheridan, depicted as an impoverished harlequin, wearing motley trousers, and nothing but frilled cuffs on his top half. In the midground, Watkin Williams Wynn and his brothers, come to see their Uncle's investiture, ride a 'Welsh Tandem' pulled by goats over a corpulent Doctor, while the Archbishop of York is towed through the massed crowds in an open car. An impromptu sideshow in the background features 'the biggest flying elephant,' with features remarkably like those of the new Chancellor. From the windows of the Radcliffe Camera, Lord Stafford and the Marquis of Buckingham look on, while two further Grenvilles, Lord George and Charles, exit the building to join the throng. Bespectacled owls are perched on rooftops, and in the distance, the dome of Tom Tower is riven with a gigantic crack, from which issues a cloud of bats.

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 11570

Condition: Repaired split to left-hand platemark. Minor time toning to edges of sheet. Old adhesive tape to top edge of sheet on verso. Framed in an antique black and gilt frame.
Framing framed
Price £1,000.00
Stock ID 51212

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