Fairfax House in York is currently hosting a James Gillray exhibition entitled Savage Satire. The exhibition features 35 original prints by Gillray, including a number of his most important and iconic works, as well as one of his original engraved copper plates. Savage Satire runs until 7th June 2019 and admission is included in the price on entry to Fairfax House.

Further details, some of which are reproduced below, can be found on the Fairfax House website. I’ll be going and I hope to see you there.

Savage Satire – From the pen of James Gillray

James Gillray, savage satirist, cruel cartoonist and biting political commentator, wielded a power with his pen that few could match in Georgian Britain. His grotesquely exaggerated and wicked caricatures mercilessly ridiculed and poured scorn on politicians, celebrities and royalty alike.

The visceral and subversive nature of Gillray’s Georgian humour knew no bounds. From the underbelly of British life and the cut-throat business of politics, through to nationalistic squabbles with European neighbours and intensifying notions of ‘Britishness’, all offered a rich seam for Gillray to prod and poke fun at. At the height of his creative powers in the 1790s Gillray’s pen turned out an incessant medley of acidic attacks on everything from insidious tax increases, failed trade missions and constitutional reform, through to the terrors of the French Revolution, war and the threat of imminent invasion.

200 years on, his often ruthless, sometimes gruesome, but always sharp and sophisticated satires have never been more amusing or relevant.

Drawing on an extraordinary collection of Gillray’s works, a life-time creation by collector Donald Coverdale, Savage Satire draws many parallels between Gillray’s world and today’s current affairs.