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'The lord of the vineyard'

5 of 30 portraits of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

'The lord of the vineyard', by James Gillray, published by  William Humphrey, published 3 April 1783 - NPG D12333 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

'The lord of the vineyard'

by James Gillray, published by William Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 3 April 1783
13 3/4 in. x 9 7/8 in. (351 mm x 250 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12333

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Sittersback to top

Artistsback to top

  • James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
  • William Humphrey (1742?-before 1815), Engraver and printseller. Artist associated with 69 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This print satirises the newly created coalition government of Charles James Fox and Frederick North who were previously sworn political enemies. The triangular composition shows at its pinnacle the Duke of Portland, the nominal premier of the coalition ministry, handing down the ripe fruits of office to his two hungry ministers - Fox became Foreign Secretary, North, Home Secretary. The uneasy alliance between Fox and North was mistrusted by both men's supporters who felt they had been used for each politician's own selfish purposes. It was also despised by George III who seized on Fox's East India Bill of December 1783 to bring about its collapse. Gillray's first caricatures depict Charles James Fox literally with a fox's head, before developing the instantly recognisable figure of later prints. He frequently employed the motif of the fox and grapes from Aesop's fables to illustrate Fox's grasping pursuit of governmental office.