Gillray - A - G

Gillray : James (1756 - 1815) Gillray was one of five children, and the only one to survive to maturity. In 1770 he was apprenticed to Harry Ashby, a London writing in engraver, and five years later W. Humphrey published a few of Gillray's illustrations including satirical works. By the time Gillray commenced his career satire was old, but personal caricature was in its infancy. Other exponents in this form of art were soon overshadowed by Gillray's superior craftsmanship. His figures were full of vitality, titillating and reflective of some political crisis or private scandal. As his popularity increased so did demand by the public to see more of his work. In the rapidly changing politics of the late18th century he would produce a plate in twenty-four hours. Although sometimes overlooked his speech bubbles were elaborate and Gillray would spend considerable time composing and redrafting the text. His career continued successfully in association with William and then Mr Humphrey's between 1791 and 1807 when Gillray's health began to suffer. He eventually slipped into madness dying shortly before the Battle of waterloo on June 1st 1815. Other exponents of satirical art with hard hitting caricatures by Cruikshank, Rowlandson and William heath continued until just after the ascension of Queen Victoria when such savage personal attacks became unthinkable.

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