A sale of English-beauties, in the East-Indies

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James Gillray
A sale of English-beauties, in the East-Indies
[London] : Pub'd May 16th 1786, by W. Holland, No. 50 Oxford Strt, [1786]
etching and aquatint, hand colored
image: 411 x 526 mm; plate mark: 434 x 540 mm; sheet: 456 x 585 mm
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987.
From the library of Gordon N. Ray.

Caption title.
By James Gillray.
An attack on the morals of the English in India, probably inspired, at least in part, by accusations of corruption brought against Warren Hastings as colonial governor in Bengal.


Print shows a ship-load of English courtesans just arrived in Calcutta and being sold by an auctioneer. The central figure is a bare-breasted woman who gives her right hand to an Indian man and her left hand to a stout Englishman, over whose head a Black child holds a tall umbrella. Papers projecting from his pocket are inscribed "Instructions for the Governor General." A man smoking a long pipe holds up the petticoats of a woman in back view who puts her hand on the shoulder of an elderly man wearing a jewelled turban. The middle distance is crowded with figures; an enormous woman is being weighed in a scale opposite a barrel inscribed "Lack of Rupees" which she slightly outweighs. On the right is the side of a high warehouse into the door of which a number of weeping women are crowding. Over the door is inscribed, "Warehouse for unsaleable Goods from Europe NB: To be return'd by the next Ship." In the foreground is a row of seven casks all inscribed "Leake's Pills"; on them is a box inscribed "Surgeons Instruments." The auctioneer stands on a case inscribed "British-Manufacture" and decorated with crossed birch-rods. Beside it is a smaller case supposed to contain books and inscribed "For the Amusement of Military Gentlemen. Crazy Tales"; "Pucelle"; "Birchini's Dance"; "Elements of Nature"; "Female Flagellants Fanny Hill"; "Sopha"; "Moral Tales." The auctioneer's desk is a bale placed on end and inscribed "Mrs. Phillips (the original inventor) Leicester Field London. For the use of the Supreme Council." Cf. George.

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