Sims Reed Rare Books×

Habits of the New French Legislators, and other Public Functionaries. No. 1 - No. 12

Gillray, James

London. H. Humphrey. 1798
A very fine complete set of James Gillray's hand-coloured satirical etchings of the Whig opposition depicted in the costumes designed by Jacques-Louis David for the legislators of the French republic.

Published by Hannah Humphrey from her shop in St. James's between 18th April and 21st May, 1798, Gillray's caricatures depict, despite the title indicating they are French, English legislators.More particularly they satirise the Whig opposition of the day, viewed through the prism of the revolution in France. The first plate for example, 'Le Ministre d'Etat, en Grand Costume', shows Charles James Fox outfitted as a revolutionary but standing on a rug embroidered with the Royal arms and motto 'Dieu et Mon Droit'.

Fox was, at that moment, in the political wilderness and he and his allies found themselves in a precarious position in the face of a popular war and its Tory advocates led by Pitt. Gillray, always conservative, was merciless in his ridicule of France, the French, the revolution and those he took to support them. Later the same year, Lord Bateman wrote to Gillray: 'The Opposition are as low as we can wish them. You have been of infinite service in lowering them, and making them ridiculous.'

The legislators with their titles and attributions (as per the BM) are the following:

1. Le Ministre d'Etat, en Grand Costume - Charles James Fox.
2. Les Membres du Conseil des Anciens - Lords Landsdowne, Norfolk and Grafton (left to right).
3. Les Membres du Conseil des Cinq Cents - Lords Stanhope, Derby and Lauderdale, M. A. Taylor and Lord Grey (right to left).
4. Membre du Directoire Exécutif - Earl of Bedford.
5. President d'Administration Municipale - John Horne Tooke.
6. Le Boureau - Tierney.
7. L'Avocat de la Republique - Lord Erskine.
8. Membre de la Haute Cour de Justice - Sir George Shuckburgh.
9. Juge du Tribunal Correctionnel - Courtney .
10. Juge de Paix - Nicholls, M.P. for Tregony.
11. Le Tresorier - Sir William Pulteney.
12. Messager d'Etat - Sir F. Burdett.

[BM Satires 9196 - 9201 / 9208 - 9213].
[12 leaves]. Small folio. (278 x 222 mm). 12 etched plates by James Gillray, each with wash borders and additional colouring by hand, signed beneath 'J[ame]s. G[illra]y. d[elineavit]; & f[eci]t.' at lower left and with the publisher's address 'Pub[lishe]d. April 18th ( - May 21st) 1798. by H[annah]. Humphrey 27 St. James's Street' at lower right and with title caption at foot, the first plate with title as above and numbered '1', the remainder with 'French Habits' and numbered 2 - 12; plates mounted on tabs throughout, sheet size: c.268 x 202x mm. Later marbled paper-covered boards, black morocco label with gilt title to spine.

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