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The Whore's Last Shift

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1868,0808.4586

  • Title (object)

    • The Whore's Last Shift
  • Description

    A woman stands in a sordid and poverty-stricken room. She is naked except for her shoes and ragged stockings, and is washing a garment, her 'last shift', in a broken chamber-pot supported on a broken chair. Another garment is in a broken basin on the floor; her hat and outer-garments also lie on the floor. Beside them are two pill-boxes and a paper inscribed "Leakes famous Pills". Her hair is elaborately dressed in a pyramid, decorated with feathers, flowers, and ribbons. The low bed has tattered coverings. A casement window (left) is open, showing the roof of a neighbouring house; on the sill a cat miaows. A broadside ballad is pinned to the window recess: "The comforts of Single Life. An Old Song". On the wall is a torn print, "Ariadne Forsaken". The plaster has peeled off the wall in patches, showing bricks. 9 February 1779
    Hand-coloured etching

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1779
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 360 millimetres
    • Width: 255 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title, text within image and publication line: "Publish'd Feby. 9th. by W.Humphrey."
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
    Grego, 'Gillray', p. 28
    .......................

    On the plate is written in a later hand "portrait of Lady Worsley" (Cf. BMSat 6105-12) but Lady Worsley's trial and Gillray's responses came two years later. Vic Gatrell (City of Laughter, pp. 104-106) points out that Gillray's treatment is ambiguous. He evokes the contrast between the bleak reality of a prostitute's life and the finery of her outward presentation, but it is not clear whether he is condemning her or sympathising.

    See 1935,0522.1.108 for a derivation published by Carington Bowles.

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  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 5604 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    1989/90 Dec-Feb, Bolton Museum & AG, Folly and Vice
    1990 Feb-Marcj, York City AG, Folly and Vice
    1990 March-May, Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial Mus, Folly and Vice
    1990 May-June, Birmingham Museum & AG, Folly and Vice
    2011/12 Oct-Jan, London, National Portrait Gallery, The First Actresses

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1868

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1868,0808.4586

A woman stands in a sordid and poverty-stricken room. She is naked except for her shoes and ragged stockings, and is washing a garment, her 'last shift', in a broken chamber-pot supported on a broken chair. Another garment is in a broken basin on the floor; her hat and outer-garments also lie on the floor. Beside them are two pill-boxes and a paper inscribed "Leakes famous Pills". Her hair is elaborately dressed in a pyramid, decorated with feathers, flowers, and ribbons. The low bed has tattered coverings. A casement window (left) is open, showing the roof of a neighbouring house; on the sill a cat miaows. A broadside ballad is pinned to the window recess: "The comforts of Single Life. An Old Song". On the wall is a torn print, "Ariadne Forsaken". The plaster has peeled off the wall in patches, showing bricks. 9 February 1779  Hand-coloured etching

A woman stands in a sordid and poverty-stricken room. She is naked except for her shoes and ragged stockings, and is washing a garment, her 'last shift', in a broken chamber-pot supported on a broken chair. Another garment is in a broken basin on the floor; her hat and outer-garments also lie on the floor. Beside them are two pill-boxes and a paper inscribed "Leakes famous Pills". Her hair is elaborately dressed in a pyramid, decorated with feathers, flowers, and ribbons. The low bed has tattered coverings. A casement window (left) is open, showing the roof of a neighbouring house; on the sill a cat miaows. A broadside ballad is pinned to the window recess: "The comforts of Single Life. An Old Song". On the wall is a torn print, "Ariadne Forsaken". The plaster has peeled off the wall in patches, showing bricks. 9 February 1779 Hand-coloured etching

Image description

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