Gillray's Got You Sir! Scathing Satire At Leicester Cathedral

By Caroline Lewis | 25 August 2004
shows a fish-eye photo of Leicester Cathedral taken from below.

Leicester Cathedral is home to the work of one of our greatest satririst - for three days only in August. Picture © Images Leicester.

If you read the papers, you’re probably familiar with Steve Bell or Mac - political cartoonists who wittily sum up the issues of our age. Seeing the lighter side of things is a tradition stretching back hundreds of years, and our modern satirical artists owe a lot to one James Gillray (1756-1815).

Leicester City Museums are presenting an exhibition of Gillray’s 18th century satirical engravings at Leicester Cathedral from 27 to 30 August, as part of the Castle Park Festival.

Simon Lake, Acting Senior Curator of Art at New Walk Museum, said: “It’s really to remind people that Gillray was the father of political cartoonists in many ways,” adding that the show will “remind people of his waspish humour.”

The brilliant illustrator attacked the 18th century British political establishment with hand-coloured engravings and etchings dealing with crime, morality, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

sshows a photo of an engraving depicting a large man in fancy clothing, on a stage in front of crowds of onlookers. He is holding a picture aloft.

Photo: Theatrical Bubble, 1805. One of the engravings on show at Leicester Cathedral. Courtesy Leicester Museums.

Politicians still fear the sting of cartoonists’ humiliating caricatures and accurate summations of their more unfortunate actions. The pictures on show will open eyes to a bygone age of scoundrels and mischief-makers, which echoes the themes in today’s tabloid scandals.

Simon said: “Gillray visualises the same human follies that we still see today, and this selection of prints is a marvellous opportunity to re-live the rough-and-tumble world he knew.”

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