James Gillray:
A Revolution in Satire

Tim Clayton

Publicaton Date
November 2022
Standard Number
Yale University Press
408 pages, 290 x 248mm
205 colour + b/w illus.

The story of Britain’s greatest caricaturist, whose satires poked fun at political life throughout the Age of Revolutions

Described by one contemporary as the 'Prince of Caricatura', James Gillray was the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century’s most famous and prolific graphic satirist. This definitive biographical study explores Gillray’s work through his friends, collaborations and connections, and places it in the context of the world of print and political satire at a time when revolution and war erupted around the globe.

As well as an obsessive artist, Gillray was a hard‑working art‑businessman who struggled to make a living in politically exciting but difficult financial circumstances. Exploring Gillray’s life⁠ – his relations with his publishers, his patrons, with other artists, and politicians, and the pressures that made him publish⁠ – sheds new light on contemporary anxieties about artistic independence, the role of propaganda and the increasing political importance of public opinion.

Lavishly illustrated, James Gillray and the Business of Satire also explores the artist’s early involvement in the production of previously unknown erotic prints, nearly all of which were deliberately destroyed by moral crusaders during the 1790s.