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The court at Brighton à la Chinese!!

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The court at Brighton à la Chinese!!
  • Description

    The Regent, immensely obese, sits on a divan holding the mouthpiece of an oriental pipe, and holding out a document to Lord Amherst (right), who bows to receive it. Both are in (burlesqued) Chinese costumes and have finger-nails elongated into talons. Both wear round Chinese hats (of varying design) with a central peak, that of the Regent is surmounted with antlers, a little Union Jack waves from that of Amherst. The Regent has a very long drooping moustache ending in little spirals, that of Amherst is comparatively small. On the Regent's paunch his feathers are embroidered, with a star at their base; on the stocking or trouser that defines an enormous leg, a pagoda is embroidered; his feet are thrust into ornate Chinese shoes. A looped tube extends from the long mouthpiece to a vessel in the form of a squatting mandarin with smoke rising from the hat. The document has pendent seals, is headed with quasi-Chinese characters, and is inscribed: 'Instructions for Ld Amherst to get fresh Patterns of Chinese deformities to finish the decorations of ye Pavillion—GPR'. Amherst wears a tunic above loose trousers and Chinese shoes. A sword is slung from a ribbon, and a huge Garter star is embroidered on the back of his tunic; his hair is tied and from it hangs a long bag, reaching below the skirt of his tunic. Lady Hertford (see No. 11853, &c.) sits on a cushion on the divan, on the Regent's right; she rests an elbow on his shoulder, while she turns to Lord Hertford, who leans against her (left); she arrogantly holds up two fingers above his (bald) head to signify that he is a cuckold (Lord and Lady Jersey were similarly depicted by I. Cruikshank in No. 8809). She is not dressed in the Chinese manner, but wears a simple décolletée gown defining her fat curves; curious braces project above her shoulders in large loops. Hertford is in Chinese dress, with a tiny pigtail projecting from a bald head and terminating in a little bag. He wears a long robe over vest and trousers, embroidered with a pattern of antlers. As Lord Chamberlain he holds a long wand; this terminates in a tiny stag's head with antlers from which hang little bells (similar in appearance to a musical instrument known as a 'Jingling Johnny'). He looks complacently towards the Regent. Beside the Regent (right) stands Princess Charlotte, putting a hand on his left arm; she points to Amherst, saying, "Papa had'nt you better tell him to bring me over a China Man instead of getting me a Husband among our German Cousins!" The Regent gazes impassively before him, disregarding her. The Princess wears a décolletée high-waisted dress, with three feathers in her hair. Prince Leopold stands close behind her, tall and handsome, looking down at her with quizzical complacency. He wears hussar uniform, with a large plumed busby. He stands on a paper: 'To Prince Leopold'.
    This large central group is flanked on the right and left by figures standing against the wall. On the left are Lords Eldon and Ellenborough, both in judge's wig and robes, standing close together and looking sideways at the Hertfords. They wear Chinese hats, that of Eldon (Scott) inscribed 'Scotia', that of Ellenborough, 'Banco Regis'. On the extreme right are two mandarins standing rigidly with dropped arms; they have drooping Chinese moustaches, round hats with central peak, long gowns, each with a ribbon and star. The ribbon of one is inscribed 'A Sly Go!', of the other (right) 'A Blooming Field', to show that they are the Marquis of Sligo and Sir Benjamin Bloomfield. On the extreme left the profile head of Castlereagh projects into the design; his dress is not Chinese.
    In the foreground (left) Queen Charlotte, much caricatured, and grinning broadly, pours coins from a bag shaped like a big stocking, and inscribed 'Pin Money & Royal Saveings', into a huge netted purse held open by McMahon, a grotesque little Chinese, who looks up at her with an answering grin. He wears a short belted tunic over wide trousers, a pen projects like a pigtail from his bald head to show that he is Private Secretary to the Regent, see No. 11861, &c.; he bestrides the purse which extends along the ground and is labelled 'Privy Purse' [see No. 11874]. The Queen wears a bonnet, and high-heeled shoes of antique pattern. Beside her on the ground is a large snuff-box inscribed 'Queens Mixture', cf. No. 12066. Behind Amherst, and in the foreground on the right, are gifts from the Regent to the Emperor of China. From an open chest placarded 'Presents for the Emperor of China' project two portraits of the Regent, the heads only being visible: 'Front & back view of myself'. Beside these are large volumes inscribed 'Fanny Hill' and 'Pretty books' [cf. No. 12763]. Against the chest leans a portfolio of 'Curious Prints'. A basket of bottles is labelled 'Cordials'. Next this are two books: 'The Art of making Punch in 2 vols.' A round band-box contains 'Wigs & Whiskers'; next it are curling-tongs and a hair-brush. In front of the Regent's divan lie papers, &c.: 'Message to Parlt to provide for the Marriage & Maintenance of Prince Leopold & Charlotte of Wales'; 'Petition from the Strand Bridge Compy for a free grant of the Site of the ruinous pallace of the Savoy which at present impedes the the [sic] further progress & completion of that grand & important National Improvement'; an open book: 'Royal Rantipoles or the Humours of Brighton by Peter Pinder'; 'Proposal to continue the Property Tax for ever, to pay off Arrears of ye Civil List occasiond by ye Regency Whims', 'Fairs, Carnivals, & other Royal Fooleries'.
    Behind the royal divan are curtains shading an alcove which are flanked by statues, one a life-like representation of the Hottentot Venus (see No. 11577), in profile to the left, inscribed 'Regency Taste!!!!!' The other is the 'British Adonis', the Regent in profile to the right, walking like a dancing-master with chest thrown out, and a strongly marked waist at the back, with coat-tails hanging grotesquely over his projecting posterior, a corseted figure contrasting with the corpulent monstrosity on the divan. From the roof hangs a large bronze dragon holding in one claw a pagoda-shaped lantern. The wall is divided into panels by narrow strips of Chinese decoration; there is a cornice of small overlapping gold tiles or scales, from which hang little bells.
    March 1816
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 1816
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 273 millimetres (printed image)
    • Width: 372 millimetres (printed image)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title, artist's name, text within image and publication line: "G Cruikshank fect / London Pubd. by J. Sidebotham No. 96 Strand".
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
    A satire conceived after the establishment for Princess Charlotte was announced in Parliament on 15 Mar., see No. 12754, and probably before the defeat of the Income Tax on 18 Mar., see No. 12750, &c. Lord Amherst left (Feb. 1816) as envoy to the Emperor of China with propitiatory gifts which were received with the same contempt as those delivered by Macartney, see No. 8121. For the impending storm on the Civil List see the letter from Ministers to the Regent of 15 Mar., 'Corr. of George IV', 1938, ii. 158 f., and No. 12756. For the Queen's supposed miserliness, No. 7836, &c. The 'Morning Post' had called the Regent an 'Adonis of Loveliness' in 1812. For the Strand Bridge see No. 12787, &c. The Chinese décor may reflect a speech of Lord Stanley against the Income Tax on 12 Mar. 'He hoped they should have no more of that squanderous and lavish profusion which . . . resembled more the pomp of a Persian satrap, seated in the splendour of oriental state, than the sober dignity of a British prince, seated in the bosom of his subjects.' 'Parl. Deb.' xxxiii. 201. Cf. Moore's 'Morning Chronicle' verses 'Fum and Hum, the two birds of Royalty', reprinted 'Fudge Family', 1818. A phase of lavish expenditure on the Pavilion began in 1815. Dragons, pagodas, and bells were the principal motifs of the 'chinoiserie' there, see H. D. Roberts, 'Hist. of the Royal Pavilion Brighton', 1939, pp. 45, 51, 52-5, &c.
    Reid, No. 583. Cohn, No. 1026.

    (Supplementary information)
    Rawson 1992:
    The fasion for 'Chinoiserie' was revived in the early to the mid nineteenth century when, in 1821, the Prince Regent built the Brighton Pavilion, that splendid eclectic 'mish-mash' of oriental nostalgia designed in the 'Hindoo' architectural style, with a combination of Chinese, and imitating Chinese interior decoration.


  • Bibliography

    • Cohn 1924 1026 bibliographic details
    • BM Satires 12749 bibliographic details
    • Reid 1871 583 bibliographic details
    • Rawson 1992 figure 217 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XIXc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    2007 Mar-Jun, London, National Portrait Gallery, 'Between Worlds:...'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat).  1816  Hand-coloured etching

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 1816 Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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