Midas transmuting all into [gold] paper [graphic] / Js. Gy. inv. & ft.
Gillray, James, 1756-1815, printmaker.
[9 March 1797]
1 print : etching on wove paper, hand-colored ; plate mark 35.5 x 24.8 cm, on sheet 40 x 30 cm
Title etched below image. 'Gold' in title scored through. Three lines of text below title: History of Midas -- The great Midas having dedicated himself to Bacchus ... Temporary local subject terms: Money: coins -- Bank notes -- Cupids -- Brest -- French fleet.
"Pitt, a colossal figure (cf. BMSat 8980), bestrides the Rotunda of the 'Bank of England'. His arms and legs are very thin, but his body is formed of a (transparent) sack distended with gold coins and inscribed '£'. His elbows are akimbo, his hands grasp the sides of the sack; from the little finger of his left hand hangs a key, 'Key of Public Property'. Round the mouth of the sack is a heavy chain clasped by a padlock inscribed 'Power of securing Public Credit'. From the sack emerges the pipe-like neck down which coins are passing. Pitt looks arrogantly to the right, a blast issues from his closed lips of many paper notes inscribed 'one'. Near his mouth are a few gold coins which he is presumably inhaling. He wears a crown formed of 'one' pound notes; through it project his ass's ears. The near side of the Rotunda is removed, showing a descending shower of paper and an ascending cluster of coins which are being drawn upwards to join those in the sack. Little figures in and around the rotunda, under Pitt's legs, hold up their hands in dismay at the shower of £1 notes. Among them is a John Bull wearing a smock. Two men hold papers inscribed 'Dividend'; a Jew walks off (left) with 'Scrip'. On the left, behind Pitt's right foot, is the sea-shore; large reeds at its edge blow towards him; among these are five heads wearing bonnets-rouges, each with a label issuing from his mouth: 'Midas has Ears'. They are Fox, Sheridan, Erskine, M. A. Taylor, and (?) Grey. They diminish in size from Fox to Taylor. Across the sea is 'Brest', from which a fleet is setting out. Behind it are black clouds, and an explosion rises from them in which are swarms of tiny figures holding daggers and wearing bonnets-rouges. This spreads behind Pitt's head who appears unconscious of it. He looks down towards three almost naked winged figures: Grenville (left) and Dundas (right) hold up between them a scroll: 'Prosperous state of British Finances. & the new Plan for diminishing the National Debt - with Hints on the increase of Commerce'. Between and above them is Windham, Secretary-at-War, a pen behind his ear. He waves his cocked hat, Grenville his coronet, and Dundas his Scots cap. Beneath the title: 'History of Midas, - The great Midas having dedicated himself to Bacchus [cf. BMSat 8651], obtained from that Deity, the Power of changing all he Touched - Apollo fixed Asses-Ears upon his head, for his Ignorance - & although he tried to hide his disgrace with a Regal Cap, yet the very Sedges which grew from the Mud of the Pactolus, whisper'd out his Infamy, whenever they were agitated by the Wind from the opposite Shore - Vide Ovid's Metamorposes.'"--British Museum online catalogue.
Midas transmuting all into paper
Midas (Legendary character)
Auchincloss, Hugh Dudley--Ownership. Bank of England. Erskine, Thomas Erskine,--Baron,--1750-1823--Caricatures and cartoons. Fox, Charles James,--1749-1806--Caricatures and cartoons. Grenville, William Wyndham Grenville,--Baron,--1759-1834--Caricatures and cartoons. Grey, Charles Grey,--Earl,--1764-1845--Caricatures and cartoons. Harvey, Francis--Ownership. Humphrey, Hannah, active 1774-1817, publisher. Melville, Henry Dundas,--Viscount,--1742-1811--Caricatures and cartoons. Pitt, William,--1759-1806--Caricatures and cartoons. Riviere & Son Binding. Sheridan, Richard Brinsley,--1751-1816--Caricatures and cartoons. Taylor, Michael Angelo,--1757-1834--Caricatures and cartoons. Windham, William,--1750-1810--Caricatures and cartoons.
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797.03.09.01+ Auchincloss Gillray v. 4
Lewis Walpole Library
Lewis Walpole Library
Local Record Number:
Catalogue of prints and drawings in the British Museum. Division I, political and personal satires, v. 7, no. 8995 Wright, T. Works of James Gillray, the caricaturist with the history of his life and times, p. 220
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