- Museum number
- Object: Leaving off powder, -or- a frugal family saving the guinea
A domestic interior. A fat and ugly citizen, wearing old-fashioned dress with a small unpowdered wig, stands on the hearth-rug (right), his back to the fire; he is meditatively reading the 'Gazette', headed: 'New Taxes', and 'Bankru[pts]', his left hand plunged in his breeches pocket. Behind him on the chimney-piece is a pair of scales for weighing guineas (see BMSat 5128). His wife, bald-headed, ugly, and stout, leans back in an arm-chair, her hands raised in protest at an unpowdered wig which a grotesquely thin and ragged French hairdresser (left) proffers obsequiously. A fashionably dressed young man with cropped hair looks with imbecile surprise at his reflection in an oval mirror over the chimney-piece. His mouth is half-covered by his swathed neckcloth, he wears a short spencer (see BMSat 8192) over a sparrow-tail coat, and half-boots. A young woman with over-dressed but unpowdered (red) hair looks with dismay at her reflection in a mirror which she has snatched from the wall. On the wall is an oval bust portrait of 'Charles 2d', his tiny head framed in an immense powdered wig. 10 March 1795
- Production date
Height: 247 millimetres
Width: 353 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
The powder tax came into force on 6 May 1795; those wearing powder (with certain exceptions) were to take out a guinea licence; lists of licence-holders, 'guinea-pigs', were to be posted on the doors of parish churches. See BMSats 8621, 8628, 8646, 8650, 8660, 8663, 8664, 8668, 8712, 8769, 8771, 9017, 9195, 9391.
An impression is bound as frontispiece to a copy of Wolcot's 'Hair Powder; a plaintive Epistle to Mr. Pitt', 1795, in which the distress of a girl at the disclosure of her 'carrot-colour' hair is related. (B.M.L., 11632. dd. 1.)
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 187. Wright and Evans, No. 117. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number