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'The lover's dream'

19 of 89 portraits of Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick

'The lover's dream'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and aquatint, published 24 January 1795
12 1/4 in. x 16 1/4 in. (311 mm x 412 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12515

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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.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

The Prince of Wales sleeps, clasping his pillow with a blissful expression as he dreams of the pleasures of his forthcoming marriage to Caroline of Brunswick. A beautiful vision of her hovers above him, accompanied by Cupid and a winged cherub. At the other side of the bed George III and Queen Charlotte appear. His parents' offer of a bag of money refers to the King's promise to settle his son's large debts as part of the marriage agreement. Behind them a group embodying the Prince's vices flees at the sight of his approaching bride and apparent new-found virtue. They include his secret wife Mrs Fitzherbert, his mistress, Lady Jersey, Lord Derby as Bacchus astride a barrel of port and opposition leader Charles James Fox throwing dice. In fact the bridal couple had not yet met and the Prince needed a stiff drink when they did. Although George went through with the ceremony, the marriage was to prove disastrous.