James Gillray (1756-1815). "A Lyoness."
London: H. Humphrey, July 13th 1801. Etching. Original hand color. 13 1/2 x 9 5/8. Narrow margins. George, 9758. Very good condition.
One of the best-known British caricaturists, James Gillray made a name for himself through his witty compositions, capable draftsmanship, and exquisite detail. Through his copious political satires on the era of King George III, he set a new standard for the genre, becoming a measure by which his successors were judged. The prints he published through Hannah Humphrey's shop in London have become archetypes for caricaturists and include such famous images as world rulers carving up the globe at dinner.
In this scene, an obese, vulgar and arrogant-looking woman wears a very low-cut gown and a large plume with a small bunch of flowers in her hair. The woman is reputed to be Polly Goldsmid Symons (1753-1841), whose husband "Baron" Lyon de Symons was a diamond merchant, financier and loan contractor. In that period "lioness" was a term for a female celebrity.
Other caricatures by James Gillray: