Political Currents across the Channel: James Gillray’s Caricatures of France

Print, Drawing, and Photography Study Center

Maniac-RavingsJames Gillray, Maniac-Ravings—or—Little Boney in a strong Fit, 1803, published by H. Humphrey, May 24, 1803, etching, hand-colored. Courtesy of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University.

British artist James Gillray (1756–1815) was one of the most popular and prolific satirists of his time. During his career Gillray produced more than 800 single-sheet caricatures addressing the political figures and social foibles of his time. The outrageous humor and brilliant color of his prints makes them as trenchant and powerful today as when they were first shown 200 years ago.

Curated by Northwestern University art history graduate student Shalini Seshadri under the direction of Hollis Clayson, professor of art history and Martin J. and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor, Political Currents across the Channel examined Gillray’s take on French politics, Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, and difficult Anglo-French relationships in the wake of the 1789 French Revolution. Drawn from the holdings of Northwestern’s Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, this exhibition was presented in conjunction with Comic Art: The Paris Salon in Caricature and Philipon's La Caricature and the Street.