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John Bulls Progress

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • John Bulls Progress
  • Description

    Four designs, each with a title, the plate divided into four quarters.
    [1] 'John Bull Happy'. A cottage interior: John Bull, a stout countryman with wrinkled gaiters as in BMSat 7889, 8141, dozes serenely in an arm-chair before a blazing fire, holding a pitcher on his knee. Behind (left), his wife sits spinning; two little boys feed a bird in a wicker cage. A pretty young woman approaches the open door with a milk-pail on her head. Brass utensils are ranged on the chimney-piece, beside which is a roasting-jack with wheel and chain. A well-fed cat and dog sleep amicably by the fire.
    [2] 'John Bull going to the Wars'. John Bull has enlisted and marches off (left to right) beside a file of soldiers with drawn sabres, the man next him blowing a bugle. He marches with awkward energy, gazing proudly in profile to the right, not to see his wife and children (left), who cling to him, weeping. He holds a musket and is dressed as in [1], with the addition of a grenadier's cap and bandolier. Behind (left) is a corner of his cottage.
    [3] 'John Bull's Property in danger'. John Bull's wife, followed by her three children, approaches the stone gateway of the Treasury, its iron gate open, the three balls of a pawnbroker above it, the inscription 'Money Lent by Authority'. Beside it are two bills: 'Wanted a Number of Recruits to serve abroad' and 'List of Bankrupts John Bull'. The woman carries her spinning-wheel and a bundle of household goods; the smallest boy, holding his mother's petticoat, carries the bird-cage; the girl carries the churn and a bowl. The elder boy carries spade, rake, and pitchfork (a kettle slung to the prongs) and leads a pig.
    [4] 'John Bull's glorious Return'. A gaunt, one-legged, and one-eyed soldier (right), in tattered uniform, limps on crutches into a miserable hovel in which his starving family crouch over a fire lit on the hearth. The little boy clutches a bare bone; onions and a broken dish are on the floor (cf. BMSat 8145). Mother and sons are ragged and emaciated, the daughter has a certain youthful grace. They look with frightened astonishment at their almost unrecognizable father. 3 June 1793
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1793
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 378 millimetres
    • Width: 304 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title, artist's name, text within image and publication line: "Js. Gy. des. et fecit- / Pubd. June 3d. 1793. by H. Humphrey N 18 Old Bond Street".
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
    For other prints on the illusions and tragedies of war see BMSats 8333, 8428, 8609, p. 250, 9418, 9642. This, like BMSat 8333, was issued while the Allies were still victorious, cf. BMSat 8337. They should be compared with the anti-recruiting prints of the American War, notably BMSat 5295 (1775).
    Grego, 'Gillray', p. 171 (reproduction, p. 172). Wright and Evans, No. 103. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830. Reproduced, 'Social England', ed. Traill, 1904, v. 513.
    There is a sketch in pencil and pen by Rowlandson of [2] and [4] in the Print Room. In [2] the two soldiers are less caricatured, the wife and children are differently posed and drawn with more freedom. The file of soldiers is omitted. In [4] the soldier has not lost an eye, his family are less emaciated. On the back of the water-colour described under BMSat 9014. Binyon, iii. 250, No. 18.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 8328 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 3 June 1793  Hand-coloured etching

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 3 June 1793 Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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Object reference number: PPA84068

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