Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Under the Guillotine: Exhibit of caricatures by James Gillray.

A terrific exhibit featuring caricatures by James Gillray will be appearing at the Center for Visual Art at Metro State University of Denver. Curated by Cecily Cullen, the exhibit is drawn from the amazing collection of British caricature prints owned by Professor Arthur N. Gilbert.

James Gillray one of the greatest of political caricaturists and this exhibit is part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of his death. Gillray (1756-1815) made a name for himself through his witty compositions, capable draftsmanship, and exquisite detail. Through his copious political satires, he set a new standard for the genre, becoming a measure by which his successors were judged. He satirized both British society and royalty and foreign figures. Napoleon particularly attracted his etching needle, and Napoleon one states the Gillray did more to cause his defeat than all the armies of Europe.

Gillray’s caricatures were published as etching, each of which was hand colored, mostly by women whose names are unknown today. They are all delightful simply in their appearance, but well reward careful study. They were sometimes relatively benign, but could also be very pointed and even savage. This exhibit is dedicated to the editor and staff of Charlie Hebdo and it is interesting to contrast today’s society with that of England at the time, where this sort of very intense caricature was so well tolerated.

The exhibit runs from December 18th until March 19th, and other events are planned. More information can be found on the Metro State website.

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