'The lover's dream'
14 of 24 portraits of Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe)
'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
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Artistsback to top
Sittersback to top
- Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (1768-1821), Queen of George IV. Sitter in 94 portraits.
- Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834), Sportsman and patron of horse-racing. Sitter associated with 64 portraits.
- Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe) (1756-1837), Famous beauty; morganatic wife of George IV. Sitter in 24 portraits.
- Charles James Fox (1749-1806), Whig statesman. Sitter associated with 299 portraits.
- King George III (1738-1820), Reigned 1760-1820. Sitter associated with 184 portraits.
- King George IV (1762-1830), Regent 1811-19; Reigned 1820-30. Sitter associated with 197 portraits.
- Frances Villiers (née Twysden), Countess of Jersey (1753-1821), Mistress of George IV and courtier. Sitter associated with 8 portraits.
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), Dramatist and parliamentary orator. Sitter associated with 164 portraits.
- Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818), Queen consort of George III. Sitter associated with 83 portraits.
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.
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1795back to top
Current affairsGeorge, Prince of Wales is forced to marry Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick, despite having secretly married Maria Fitzherbert in 1785.
Widespread rioting prompts the introduction of the Speenhamland system of welfare supplements which are linked to the price of bread.
Treasonable Practices Act is passed against open criticism of government.
Art and scienceThe MP Matthew Gregory 'Monk' Lewis publishes his notorious gothic novel The Monk to success and scandal because of its immoral content.
Mungo Park explores the course of the River Niger.
InternationalWolfe Tone, founder of The Society of United Irishmen, departs for America after being implicated in high treason in Ireland. Exiled in Philadelphia, he soon leaves for France to ask revolutionaries for assistance.
Joseph Haydn composes the English Canzonettas during his second stay in London.