Duke William's ghost / Js. Gillray inv. & ft.

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James Gillray
Duke William's ghost / Js. Gillray inv. & ft.
[London] : Pubd May 7th, 1799, by H Humphrey, 27 St James's Street, [1799]
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987.
[London] : Pubd May 7th, 1799, by H. Humphrey, 27 St. James's Street, [1799]
From the library of Gordon N. Ray.

Exhibition label: The debauched Prince of Wales (later King George IV; 1765-1837) receives an admonitory visitation from the ghost of his obese great-uncle, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765). With characteristic irreverence, Gillray's cartoon of the squat and rotund figure of the spectral duke renders the macabre scene ludicrous. The exaggerated posture of the sleeping prince recalls that of the sleeper in the famous (and oft-parodied) Gothic fantasy The Nightmare by Anglo-Swiss painter Henry Fuseli (1741-1825). -- On view at the Morgan Library & Museum, Fall 2019.


Print shows the Prince of Wales on his bed, partly dressed, in a drunken stupor, head downwards, right arm hanging to the ground, where are broken bottles and spilt wine. The ghost of his great-uncle, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, immensely fat, and naked except for cocked hat and sabre, emerging from clouds, stands at the bed-side (right), holding up an hour-glass whose sands have nearly run out; in his right hand he raises the bed-curtains which frame the design.

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