- Museum number
- Object: A sale of English-beauties, in the East Indies
A ship-load of English courtesans has just arrived in Calcutta and is being sold by a thin and foppish auctioneer who stands on the extreme left on an improvised rostrum. The women are being inspected by Englishmen and orientals whose appearance is more Turkish than Indian. The central figure is a woman who gives her right hand to an Indian, at whom she looks languishingly, her left to a stout Englishman, over whose head a little black boy holds a tall umbrella. Papers projecting from his pocket are inscribed 'Instructions for the Governor General'. A stout oriental smoking a long pipe holds up the petticoats of a woman in back view who puts her hand on the shoulder of an elderly man wearing a jewelled turban, turning aside from a young military officer. The middle distance is crowded with figures; an enormously fat woman (right) is being weighed in a scale opposite a barrel inscribed 'Lack of Rupees' which she slightly outweighs. On the right is the side of a high warehouse into the door of which a number of weeping women are crowding. Over the door is inscribed, 'Warehouse for unsaleable Goods from Europe NB: To be return'd by the next Ship'. Behind are the masts of a ship with furled sails. In the foreground is a row of seven casks all inscribed 'Leake's Pills'; on them is a box inscribed 'Surgeons Instruments'. The auctioneer stands on a case inscribed 'British-Manufacture' and decorated with crossed birch-rods. Beside it is a smaller case supposed to contain books and inscribed 'For the Amusement of Military Gentlemen. Crazy Tales'; 'Pucelle'; 'Birchini's Dance'; 'Elements of Nature'; 'Female Flagellants Fanny Hill'; 'Sopha'; 'Moral Tales'. The auctioneer's desk is a bale placed on end and inscribed 'Mrs. Phillips (the original inventor) Leicester Field London. For the use of the Supreme Council.' 16 May 1786
Hand-coloured etching and aquatint
- Production date
Height: 417 millimetres
Width: 530 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
This attack on the morals of the English in India is probably connected with the proceedings against Hastings. The figure intended for the Governor-General has no resemblance to Cornwallis (who left England at the beginning of May 1786 and did not reach Calcutta till September). For Mrs. Phillips cf. BMSat 5171 and n. The auctioneer is perhaps intended for Christie, and has a certain resemblance to BMSat 6101.
Grego, 'Gillray', pp. 81-2.
For Mrs Phillips condom maker and seller see her trade card Heal,60.8
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001 Jun-Sep, London, Tate Britain, 'Gillray and the Art of Caricature'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number