Two thirds of those lots at the auction on July 13 comprised Georgian social and political satires from the collections of the late John Wardroper, author of Kings, Lords and Wicked Libellers: Satire and Protests 1760-1837.
1. William Holland – John Bull from 1797
‘John Bull caught at his last Luxury !!!’ of 1797 is one of two satirical prints by William Holland that were prompted by Pitt the Younger’s attempts at raising domestic taxation, initially on luxuries and later on all sorts of other items. Together they made £900 at the Bloomsbury Auctions sale. In the example illustrated, an outraged John Bull has been rudely interrupted by Pitt and Henry Dundas while indulging in the luxury of a rustic latrine – declared by Pitt to be “an abominable shameful luxury”.
2. George Moutard Woodward – Clock Tax from 1797
George Moutard Woodward’s ‘An Inquiry concerning the Clock Tax’ is a related work that shows an anxious delegate of the Society of Hosiers asking Pitt the Younger, whose list includes shoe strings, knee strings, hair strings, etc., if his new clock and watch tax will include stockings. This initially puzzling reference to ‘clock’, I find, refers to a type of ornamental work then popular on hosiery. The 1797 print at the Bloomsbury sale was accompanied by Woodward’s original, partly and palely coloured artwork. The pair sold at £1400.
3. James Gillray – The Coronation of Napoleon from 1805
James Gillray’s work was very much in evidence at the Bloomsbury Auctions sale on July 13 and produced a number of the higher bids. Sold for £2600 was ‘The Grand Coronation Procession of Napoleone the 1st, Emperor of France...’ of 1805 (detail shown here). Just to the right of Napoleon are seen Pope Pius VII and the Emperor’s Prime Minister & King of Arms, Talleyrand.
4. James Gillray – Madame Tallian and the Empress Josephine from 1805
Dated 1805, James Gillray’s ‘...Madame Tallian and the Empress Josephine dancing before Barrass in the winter of 1797 – a Fact!’ was sold for £2200 at Bloomsbury Auctions. Partly hidden by the large veil, Thérésa Tallien and Josephine de Beauharnais are seen dancing naked before the bloated, drunken figure of Barras, leader of the Directory – all closely observed by Napoleon, whose marriage to Josephine had been facilitated by Barras, one of her former lovers.
5. Honoré Daumier – Gargantua from 1831
Produced in 1831 for the journal ‘La Caricature’ by the then 24-year-old Honoré Daumier, ‘Gargantua’, depicting the newly crowned King of France Louis Philippe as an obese giant being fed money by the poor and excreting favours on the nobility, made £1900 at Bloomsbury Auctions. It was never widely published, as police and censors arrested Daumier, who was subsequently fined and imprisoned for six months.
6. John Phillips – Steam Carriages from 1829
‘Pat’s Comment on Steam Carriages’ of 1829 is the work of John Phillips, though published under his pseudonym ,‘A Sharpshooter’. The extended title reads ‘Bye and bye a Man will go a hunting after breakfast upon his Tay-Kettle’. Sold for £1000 at Bloomsbury Auctions.