James Gillray (1757-1815)
Do you think you may own a painting by James Gillray? We perform art authentications, art appraisals, art research and provide Certificates of Authenticity (COA) as well as consultations, for all paintings by James Gillray.
James Gillray was an 18th century British artist and charicaturist. He was famous for his political cartoons and satires of social situations, mainly those that were published from 1792 until 1810.
Gillray studied at the Royal Academy as a young man and supported himself as an engraver. During these early years, he likely submitted a number of drawings to various newspapers and publications under pen names, making it very likely that an unknown early drawing of his may surface somewhere. During this time, Gillray was heavily influenced by the work of Hogarth.
During this time, Gillray became involved with printmaker and publisher Miss. Hannah Humphrey. Gillray would display his work in Humphrey’s shop, and the two caused quite a scandal by living together, unmarried. Though rumors circulated about their relationship, historians are still uncertain whether theirs was a romantic or strictly business relationship.
Gillray was at his height of popularity during the French Revolution, and as a result, produced a great many caricatures of Napoleon, among many other noticeable politicians and public figures of the era.
Some art historians have hinted that Gillray may have suffered from insanity, if not temporary insanity at times, but created a large volume of work nonetheless. Towards the end of his career, Gillray’s eyesight began to fail and he suffered from the gout his entire life due to incessant drinking. Gillray even survived a suicide attempt in 1811 after throwing himself out of a window.
Today Gillray’s caricatures are valued not only as works of art, but as historical documents of a bygone era. In recent years, Gillray’s cartoons and sketches have become quite collectible, with some originals fetching upwards of $20,000 at auction.
Still wondering about an 18 th century English caricature in your family collection? Contact us…it could be by James Gillray.