Exhibitions/ Art Object

The Present State of Great Britain

Artist:
James Phillips (British, active 1779–1809)
Publisher:
Published London by William Humphrey (British, 1742?–before 1814)
Date:
1779
Medium:
Etching
Dimensions:
sheet: 11 7/16 x 16 3/4 in. (29 x 42.5 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Gift of William H. Huntington, 1883
Accession Number:
83.2.982
Not on view
Issued in London at the height of the American Revolution, this print summarizes the situation in 1779 from Britain’s point of view. As in traditional allegories, the figures represent specific nations, but their dramatic interaction anticipates the new kind of satire soon to come from Rowlandson and Gillray. John Bull stands at the center as an inattentive military volunteer dozing against a staff topped with Britannia’s attribute, the cap of Liberty. He is being attacked from all sides. An Indian, traditional emblem of America, takes Liberty’s cap in a reference to the Declaration of Independence by the Thirteen Colonies in 1776. A Dutch toper slyly steals John Bull’s purse while France is represented by an emaciated dandy restrained by a rugged Highlander, a reminder that Scottish volunteers helped make up for the British army’s poor state of preparation.
William Henry Huntington; Donor: William Henry Huntington
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine," September 13, 2011–March 4, 2012.

British Museum Satires 5579
Frederic George Stephens, M. Dorothy George Catalogue of political and personal satires preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. 11 vols., London, 1870-, vol. V, no. 5579.

Nadine Orenstein, Constance C. McPhee Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine Exh. cat.: September 13, 2011 - March 4, 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven and London, 2011, Entry by Constance McPhee, cat. no. 115, p. 148, ill.



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