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Prints - James Gillray : The Suppressed Plates
  • James Gillray : The Suppressed Plates
    Gillray, James, born 1757 - died 1815
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James Gillray : The Suppressed Plates

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Britain (printed)

  • Date:

    1788 (first published)
    ca. 1850 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gillray, James, born 1757 - died 1815 (artist)
    Bohn, Henry George, born 1796 - died 1884 (publisher)
    Fores, Samuel William (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Print on wove paper

  • Credit Line:

    Gift from the Ministry of Justice

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Two plates from an album containing 45 numbered prints on wove paper, the majority printed two per page, recto only. Numbered 11 and 12 respectively, number 11 depicts a scene in Carlton House with the Prince of Wales seated in a chair, holding a struggling Mrs Sawbridge across his knee. His right hand is raised in the act of spanking her, while her husband, the Mayor of London, Alderman John Sawbridge, plays the fiddle and dances in front of her to the right. A sheet of music is tucked in his pocket, the title of whcih reads 'The Reform. A new motion'. On the far left, Lady Archer stands in profile, holding a driving whip and pointing angrily towards the scene. The Sawbridge's young daughter stands in the background, clasping her hands together imploringly. The rest of the background figures, apart from Miss Gertrude Vanneck, look on smirking. They include Mrs. Fitzherbert, Charles James Fox, George Hanger, and possibly Lord Derby. Miss Vanneck appears in profile with a shocked expression. The word Blackjack in the title relates to a nickname for Mayor Sawbridge who was a swarthy man, constantly pressing for parliamentary reform. His wife was a noted beauty, daughter of Sir William Stevenson, himself a Lord Mayor.
Lettered with titles and the original publisher's name, date, and address.

The second print on the same page is entitled 'The Fall of Phaeton' and depicts The Prince of Wales falling headlong from a high phaeton. He is plunging towards the rear of another figure, that of Mrs Fitzherbert, who has already fallen and landed on the ground with her petticoats lifted and her posterior exposed. The horse is bolting and appears to looks back at the figures with a risible expression on its face. Lettered with title, quotation, and original publisher's name and address.

Place of Origin

Britain (printed)


1788 (first published)
ca. 1850 (printed)


Gillray, James, born 1757 - died 1815 (artist)
Bohn, Henry George, born 1796 - died 1884 (publisher)
Fores, Samuel William (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Print on wove paper

Marks and inscriptions

Publ. April 25, 1788, by S. W. Fores, No. 3 Piccadilly
Lettered underneath plate 11

Publ. July 1st 1788 by S. W. Fores, N 3 Piccadilly
Lettered underneath plate 11


Height: 63.5 cm, Width: 48.3 cm Sheet

Descriptive line

Two plates from an album of 40 'suppressed' caricatures featuring sexual, scatalogical and politically outrageous subject matter by James Gillray (1756-1815). Issued mid-19th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Vol. VI of the British Museum Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires (published 1938) asserts that 'The Royal Joke or Blackjack's Delight' is not based on any known scandal and that there was nothing in the character of Alderman Sawbridge to give colour to such a scathing satirical attack. However it was well known that Charles James Fox had severely offended Mrs Fitzherbert. Fox is depicted here with his arm around Mrs Fitzherbert and gazes at her lasciviously, whilst she regards the scene wryly.
This caricature has been variously titled 'The Royal Minuet', and 'Sawbridge's Delight'.


Wove paper


Printing; Engraving

Subjects depicted

Buttocks; Phaetons; Horses; Punishment; Ministers; Accidents; Carriages; Leaders


Prints; Satire; Caricatures & Cartoons


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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