Tom Paine's Nightly Pest

James Gillray British
Publisher Hannah Humphrey British
Sitter Thomas Paine American, born England

Not on view

This satire comments on the British prosecution of Thomas Paine, who was then in France. On December 8, 1792 he was found guilty in absentia for libel in passages published in his "Rights of Man." Here, Paine sleeps wearing a cap of liberty, near a curtain decorated with fleur-de-lys. His headboard supports images of guardian angels Charles James Fox and Dr. Priestly, and the pillow is inscribed "Vive l'America." The author dreams of judicial wigs, a dungeon and a gibbet, and his coat pocket, lying across the bed, contains a copy of "Common Sense."

Tom Paine's Nightly Pest, James Gillray (British, London 1756–1815 London), Etching and aquatint

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.