'The giant factotem amusing himself'

1 portrait of Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine

'The giant factotem amusing himself', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey, published 21 January 1797 - NPG D12593 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

'The giant factotem amusing himself'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 21 January 1797
14 3/8 in. x 10 3/8 in. (366 mm x 264 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12593

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Artistsback to top

  • James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
  • Hannah Humphrey (active 1778-1822), Publisher and printseller. Artist associated with 718 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

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This portraitback to top

Pitt is shown dominating the House of Commons. He turns to his followers, his right foot supported by Wilberforce and Dundas; his left foot curshes the leaders of the Opposition, Erskine, Sheridan and Fox. The print can be related to the debate of 30 December 1796 when Pitt moved the continuence of the war.

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Events of 1797back to top

Current affairs

The Anti-Jacobin periodical makes its debut followed by The Anti-Jacobin Review the year after. Edited by William Gifford, it acted as a Tory mouthpiece against the 'New Morality' associated with republicanism. Bank crisis results in the temporary suspension of payments by the Bank of England leading to a nationwide currency shortage.

Art and science

Robert Southey, later Poet Laureate, publishes his collected Poems, exploring contemporary interest in mythology and non-European cultures. Ann Radcliffe publishes her popular gothic novel The Italian. One of the most imaginative novelists of the period, she helped introduce readers to the romantic sense of the supernatural.


Battle of Cape St Vincent. Admiral John Jervis leads the fleet which defeat the Spanish. Failure of a small French invasion in Pembrokeshire. Naval mutinies at Spithead and Nore. Attack on the Canary Islands in which Rear-Admiral Nelson loses an arm.

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