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James Gillray The Explanation caricature etching

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Gillray - The Explanation


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English 19th century caricature by James Gillray.


Pitt (left) fires his pistol into the air; Tierney (right) fires straight at Pitt, saying, "Missed him! by G . . " Each has a second pistol in his left hand. Pitt, in profile, says: "The only Explanation I give is this! There! - that's to shew you, that I bear no Personal Enmity! - but that no consideration of my own Safety, shall deter me from doing my duty to King & Country!!! - so Fire away!" His second, Dudley Ryder, stands behind (left) holding a sheathed sword; he adds: "no nor unsay any thing which we know to be true, neither." Tierney faces three-quarter to the left; in his belt, inscribed 'Egalit_', are two daggers dripping blood; a tricolour cockade decorates his round hat. Behind him (right) and on a smaller scale than the other second is George Walpole, both fists clenched, a pair of large pistols under his left arm; he says: "Missed him? - O Lord! Its worse than ye Morroon business! O Lord! O Lord! - if he had but been popp'd off, how nicely we might have popp'd on, - O Lord! O lord." He wears a very large cocked hat and, unlike the others, is caricatured. (He is described as leaping over the furze-bushes for joy at seeing the duellists still erect. Rose, op. cit.) Behind Tierney is an empty gibbet inscribed 'Abershaw', placarded 'This Old Iron Shop to left'. On it sits a crow with the head of Burdett in profile to the left. The scene is a plateau of grass and sand, with St. Paul's and London spires in the distance. In the middle distance is a coach; a man holds the door open, watching the duel, as does a postilion on the (nearer) off horse. Etching and aquatint, circa 1850 (originally 1798). Originally published in 1801, this impression is from Henry Bohn's folio of Gillray's etchings - note the plate is numbered top right and the reverse also has another Gillray etching on it. Some light spotting. Trimmed close to title at bottom of the sheet.

Additional Information

artist James Gillray (1756-1815)
method Etching
date C1850 (originally 1798)
size 260mm by 365mm (platemark)
SKU CA4300