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“The Friend of the People” & his Petty-New-Tax-Gatherer, paying John Bull a visit

James Gillray (1756 - 1815)

Coloured etching

28 May 1806
  • About the work
    Country: Other
    City: storage

    satirical print explores, in an allegorical manner, the theme of the suffering
    of the British people represented by John Bull under the heavy taxation and
    debt imposed by the British Government during the war against Napoleon. Bull
    first appeared as a literary character in John Arbuthnot’s five pamphlets
    published in 1712, which were collected and reprinted later as The History of John Bull. He also
    appears in satirical prints in an allegorical form, as a national character. He
    is often involved in arguments about the relationship between consumption and
    taxation and is depicted as an overweight man with rosy cheeks, wearing a blue
    overcoat and a red shirt.

  • About the artist
    James Gillray was a draughtsman, etcher and engraver of caricatures, mainly after his own designs. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools and learned the technique of stipple engraving from William Wynne Ryland and Francesco Bartolozzi. Gillray produced several serious plates in this medium after his own designs and after paintings by Northcote, while simultaneously establishing himself as a caricaturist. By the end of 1791 all his caricatures were published by Mrs Hannah Humphrey, with whom he lived for the rest of his life. In 1807 his eyesight began to deteriorate and in the same year he had a breakdown. By 1810 he was considered insane. Gillray attempted suicide the following year, eventually dying at his home in Westminster, aged 58.
  • Explore
    Fox, Charles JamesPetty-Fitzmaurice, Henry, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
    Materials & Techniques
    etching, coloured etching
  • Details
    “The Friend of the People” & his Petty-New-Tax-Gatherer, paying John Bull a visit
    28 May 1806
    Coloured etching
    height: 39.60 cm, width: 28.50 cm
    Transferred from HM Revenue and Customs, December 2012
    Forwood's, Hay-on-Wye; HM Revenue and Customs, Somerset House; transferred to GAC, 2012
    GAC number