James Gillray, The Faro Table, a drawing

England, around AD 1792

Gillray is renowned both for his political prints and for satires on contemporary life. This drawing relates to a print of 1792 entitled Modern Hospitality, or A Friendly party in High Life where he targeted middle-aged aristocratic ladies who were making money by setting up 'faro-banks'. Faro was a card game in which players bet on the order that certain cards would appear when taken from the top of the pack. In Gillray's print the 'banker' is Lady Archer, but here the cards are controlled by the man standing on the right, while money is raked in by the demon croupier on the left.

Satirical prints had flourished in England from the early eighteenth century, but from the 1780s Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson set new artistic standards. Gillray's etchings combine consummate technical skill with a genius for caricature, and he was one of the greatest artists of the period in any medium. His finished compositions are often complex, but their structure is always coherent, and every detail contributes to the satirical message. Preliminary drawings in which he worked out his ideas are, however, more spontaneous and expressive. In agitated pen and ink drawings like this one, it is tempting to read a forecast of the insanity that blighted the last years of his life.

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More information

Bibliography

D. Hill, The satirical etchings of Jame (New York, Dover Publications, 1976)

R. Godfrey, English caricature, 1620 to th (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1984)

D. Donald, The age of caricature: satiric (Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996)

D. Hill, Fashionable contrasts: 100 car (London, Phaidon, 1966)

Dimensions

Height: 225.000 mm
Width: 344.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1867-10-12-608 (LB. 7)

PDB6672

Location

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