- Museum number
- Object: The prophet of the Hebrews, -the prince of peace- conducting the Jews to the promis'd-land
Richard Brothers, dressed as a sansculotte and with the face of a maniac, carries on his back a 'Bundle of the Elect' from which protrude the heads and legs of Fox, Sheridan, Stanhope (in profile to the right), and Lansdowne (in profile to the left). In his left hand is an open book: 'Revelation', and a sword of flame, his right hand points up an ascending path to the 'Gate of Jerusalem' (right); this is a gallows from which hang three nooses; behind it are flames in which demons are flying. He tramples on a seven-headed monster (the Beast of 'Revelation'): on one head, that of the Pope, he puts his foot, another prostrate human head wears a crown and so does the head of a beast breathing fire. The other four heads are those of demons. Two beams of light slant from his forehead, 'Assignats' project from his coat-pocket. Behind walk Jews, the most prominent a pedlar with an open box of trinkets. Beside them walks a fat, disreputable woman holding a bottle inscribed 'Everlasting Life' and a glass. From her pocket hangs a ballad: 'Isabell Wake a new Song to the tune of a Two penny Loaf'. In the foreground (right) St. Paul's, the Monument, a spire and houses are being engulfed in a fiery pit and are breaking to pieces (according to Brothers' prophecy). On the horizon (right) is the sea with the masts of wrecked ships projecting from the waves. Immediately above Brothers is an owl with an olive-branch in its beak, a halo poised whirlpool-like on a point above its head; it clutches a paper inscribed 'Peace'. On the right is the sun, its disk containing a staring face, wearing a bonnet-rouge, and surrounded by the points of a star which drip blood. On the left is a crescent moon in which is a fissure, its arc borders a shaded disk; round this grotesque demons dance in a ring, holding hands. 5 March 1795
- Production date
Height: 251 millimetres
Width: 351 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
The visions and prophecies of Richard Brothers, related in letters to the King, Queen, and Ministry, and in pamphlets, included claims that he was a descendant of David and Prince of the Hebrews, to whom the King must surrender his crown. He denounced the war with France, as being against a chosen people, and prophesied the destruction of the royal family, parliament, London, &c. He was daily visited (in Paddington Street) 'by different descriptions of people, who delight in hearing, even from the mouth of a madman, invectives against the present administration'. 'Lond. Chron.', 4 Mar. 1795. On 4 Mar. he was arrested on the Duke of Portland's warrant on an Elizabethan statute relating to prophecies intended to create disturbances, and examined (5 Mar.) before the Privy Council. He was confined first as a criminal lunatic and then (4 May) transferred to a private asylum. Isabella Wake had brought Brothers, when in Newgate for eight weeks in 1792, a threepenny loaf weekly, and was therefore assured by the prophet that she should be great in his kingdom. 'Contrasts on Mr. Brothers and Mr. Pitt' (B.M.L., 806. k. 15/88). Stanhope, 'Life of Pitt', 1879, ii. 102-4. Gillray associates Brothers with the Foxites, who shared his views on the war. See 'D.N.B.' and BMSats 8626, 8644, 8646, 8655.
Cf. an engraved half length portrait of 'Richard Brothers Prince of the Hebrews' by W. Sharp, pub. 16 Apr. 1795, with rays of light descending on his head, and inscribed: 'Fully believing this to be the Man whom God has appointed: - I engrave his likeness, William Sharp.'
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 183. Wright and Evans, No. 116. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830. Reproduced, C. Roth, 'The Nephew of the Almighty', 1933; R. Matthews, 'English Messiahs', 1936, p. 88.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1999/2000 Dec-Apr, London, BM, 'The Apocalypse', no.18
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number