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The nuptials of Miss Epicaene D'Eon

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1868,0808.4459

  • Title (object)

    • The nuptials of Miss Epicaene D'Eon
  • Description

    D'Eon (r.) dressed as a woman, is led by the hand by Wilkes towards an altar (l.), behind which stands a Jewish priest with two attendants. Wilkes holds the cap of liberty on a staff in his right. hand. Don Quixote, in armour, holds out his arms to prevent their approach to the altar. Behind d'Eon walks the wine-merchant holding aloft a trophy consisting of d'Eon's hat, sword, order of St. Louis, jack boots, and (?) breast-plate. He turns round to look with anxiety at Sancho Panza who is threatening with his fists a nude satyr in clerical wig and bands who carries an infant in his arms. The temple is indicated by large pillars (l.) and a heavily-draped curtain. 17 July 1771 Etching with some engraving

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1771
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 224 millimetres
    • Width: 321 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: "Pubd as the Act directs July 17: 1771."

        Beneath the title is engraved,

        "The sex of Miss Epicæne being incontestibly determined by the Birth of a Male Child without the intervention of a husband, she is elected Queen of the Amazons, & chuses for her Royal Consort the Guardian & Protector of Liberty; but as they are proceeding to celebrate the Nuptial Rites in the Temple of the Amazons, Don Quixotte appears, defies the future husband to single combat, disputes his Right to her Person & declares that Miss Epicæne is a Virgin, though Sancho Panzais [sic] all the time in dispute with F------& the trusty Wine Merchant (now her Amazonian Majesty's Standard-bearer) about the honour of being Foster-father to the Young Prince her Son."
  • Curator's comments

    For commentary on the series of which this is supposedly plate 3, see 1868,0808.4457.

    Published on the same day as 'A deputation from Jonathan's and the Free-Masons' (1868,0808.4458), this plate develops the story further. The presence of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza presumably emphasises the absurdity of the situation. It draws on d'Eon's mysterious disappearance from London for about six weeks during late May and early June 1771, which was reported in some newspapers as being for the purposes of confinement and the birth of a child (seen here in the satyr's arms at right). In fact, his absence seems to have been due to his concerns about his own safety: such large sums had been wagered on the determination of his sex that he feared being kidnapped by someone bent on discovering it.

    This was not the first mention of a supposed child, however: there had already been satirical reports in April 1771 that the love-child of the Chevalier and John Wilkes had been abandoned at the House of Commons. It is notable that d'Eon is here addressed as 'Queen of the Amazons': he would also be referred to as an Amazon, or Minerva, in less satirical prints which celebrated the great military deeds he performed 'despite' being only a woman. For examples, see 1902,1011.7149 and 1888,0716.370.

    For a satire on a similar theme, published in September 1771, see 2010,7081.362. For the sequel to the present plate, and the final print in this supposed series, see 1868,0808.4460.

    SV

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  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 4872 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Satires British 1771 Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1868

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1868,0808.4459

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat)   Etching with some engraving

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat) Etching with some engraving

Image description

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