Gillray's People

The Plumb Pudding in Danger Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
The Plumb Pudding in Danger...[1805]
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Gillray caricatured hundreds of his contemporaries. Some of them, like George III, William Pitt, Charles James Fox, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Edmund Burke, Napoleon Buonaparte, and Horatio Nelson are well known and recognizable even to Americans like myself who are not particularly well informed about British history. Others are no doubt well known among historians but less well known among the general population. And finally there are those like Elizabeth Farren, Sir Lumley Skeffington, and Lady Cecilia Johnston who would probably have been lost in the mists of time by now had it not been for their appearance in Gillray's (and other caricaturists') works.

Below are the names and mouse-over thumbnails of some of the figures who appear in Gillray's prints. Wishing to keep the page as uncluttered as possible, I have included a separate sources page listing the sources and institution of the thumbnails.

A Democrat, or Reason &
Philosophy. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
A Democrat, or Reason & Philosophy [1793]
© National Portrait Gallery, London

The names are linked in most cases to easily accessible online biographies such as Wikipedia provides. The Wikipedia entries usually provide a reasonable summary of the careers of Gillray's subjects, and often provide a more serious contemporary image of them for comparison with Gillray's caricatures.

My intent in every case is to help viewers get some basic information about a person that can become a starting point for further study. The more familiar you are with Gillray's cast of characters, the easier it is to "read" his work.

Confederated Coalition, or<br />
The Giants Storming Heaven. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
Confederated Coalition, or
The Giants Storming Heaven
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Smelling Out a Rat.... Courtesy of the Trsutees of trhe British Museum.
Smelling Out a Rat... [1790]
© Trustees of the British Museum