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- Object: Light Expelling darkness, - evaporation of Stygian exhalations,-or- The sun of the constitution, rising superior to the clouds of opposition.
Pitt as, a Roman charioteer, wearing a laurel wreath, is seated in an ornate chariot drawn (left to right) by the British Lion and the White Horse of Hanover (cf. BMSat 8691). He holds the reins, but scarcely controls the galloping pair. One foot rests on a shield bearing a fanged serpent, and wreathed with serpents, inscribed: 'Exit Python Republicanus'. Behind him is a book decorated with a lyre inscribed 'Magna Charta'. Ornate projections from the back of the chariot support the disk of the 'Sun of the Constitution': the Hebrew letters for Jehovah are surrounded by the words COMMONS . KING . LORDS; this is irradiated, the royal arms being etched partly on the sun, partly on its rays, and immediately behind Pitt. Two cherubs fly behind the chariot and on the extreme left; one holds up a 'Bible', the other a family tree of the 'Brunswick Succession': from the base, inscribed 'Ge III', rises 'G IV', from whose circle sprout five stems; beneath is inscribed: 'And future Kings, and Monarchs yet unborn'. A fringed cloth on the back of the horse is covered by the royal arms; one on the lion has Britannia, seated as on coins, but holding up a dagger in one hand, a birch-rod in the other. Both animals dash furiously forward in pursuit of the Opposition. The horse snorts fire; from his forehead thunderbolts dart towards the fugitives.
The chariot is on an ascending slope of smooth cloud, lit by the 'Sun of the Constitution' (cf. BMSat 8287, &c.) and strewn with roses which fall from the draperies of Justice, who floats before the chariot, leading it on, her head surrounded by a scroll inscribed 'Honorable Peace, or Everlasting War'. In her left hand she holds up her balanced scales, in her right she grasps a flag-staff on which the British flag floats above a tattered tricolour pennant, inscribed 'Republic'.
From under the dark and turbulent edges of the cloud-path the Opposition flee into the void. On the extreme left is the half length figure of a monstrous hag, her hair composed of serpents spitting fire, with a fillet inscribed 'The Whig Club'. In her right hand she holds one of the serpents which issue from her pendent breasts, in the left is an almost extinguished firebrand. She glares up in impotent rage. Beneath the horse and lion (right) are the heads and shoulders of (left to right) Sheridan, Fox, and Stanhope, their hair streaming behind them; each drops a dagger from his raised right hand. Sheridan and Fox have expressions of gloomy terror, Stanhope is melancholy but composed. In the abyss beneath the clouds are three small winged creatures: an owl (left) with the head of Lansdowne, two bats, one with the head of M. A. Taylor, the other (right) with that of Erskine. In their flight they have left behind them on the path of cloud three papers: 'Plan for inflaming the Dissenters in Scotland'; 'A scheme for raising the Catholicks in Ireland' (cf. BMSat 8632); 'Jacobin Prophecies for breeding Sedition in England' (an allusion to Brothers, see BMSat 8627, &c).
A second group flees upwards away from the thunderbolts of the Hanoverian horse; from the head of each falls a bonnet-rouge whose peak terminates in a (fool's) bell (cf. BMSat 9374). They are Lauderdale, with clasped hands, the Duke of Norfolk looking round apprehensively, above him the Duke of Grafton, and above again Lord Derby. [Lord Holland gives alternative identifications: Stanhope is Francis, and Grafton is Stanhope. These two, however, closely resemble other heads by Gillray of Stanhope and Grafton.] Above their heads and among the clouds are fleeing serpents, a bonnet-rouge, a book: 'Irruption of the Goths and Vandals. 2d Edition', and a scroll whose ragged edges merge in cloud: 'Patriotick Propositions. Peace, Peace on any Terms. Fraternisation Unconditional Submission No Law, no King, No God.' Another branch of cloud diverges to the left behind Justice. Its upper part is covered with wrecked ships and tiny fleeing figures. These are little sansculottes, all with large bonnets-rouges, one naked, others barelegged except for boots or sabots. They drop their swords. 30 April 1795
- Production date
Height: 345 millimetres
Width: 448 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
The print reflects passions raised by debates on Stanhope's Motion against interference in the internal affairs of France (6 Jan. 1795), on Grey's Motion for peace with France (26 Jan.), and on Bedford's similar Motion (27 Jan.), as well as Motions by Fox and Guilford for a Committee on the State of the Nation (24 and 30 Mar.). 'Parl. Hist.' xxxi. ii3off., &c. See BMSats 8614, 8636-42. For earlier peace motions cf. BMSat 8437, &c. See also BMSat 8655. Cf. BMSat 8792.
Jack Kunin has pointed out (email, February 2016) that the Hebrew inscription 'Chochmah' in the centre of the sun means wisdom.
Grego, 'Gillray', pp. 183-4. Wright and Evans, No. 119. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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