Attributed to James Gillray (1756-1815). "Every Rogue is a Coward."
London: Hannah Humphrey, 6 June 1801. Etching. Hand color. 10 x 14 (neat lines and plate marks). Full margins. Excellent 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.
Two riders on the road to Hounslow when Hounslow Heath was famous as a dangerous area due to highwaymen. The joke here is that each man is a highwayman and so each spontaneously assumes that the other is about to rob him. Being cowardly robbers, they spontaneously surrender to each other. A fine comedy of men, manners and understanding.
Other caricatures by James Gillray: