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'Doublures of characters; - or - striking resemblances in phisiognomy'

13 of 113 portraits of Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Bt

'Doublures of characters; - or - striking resemblances in phisiognomy', by James Gillray, published by  John Wright, published 1 November 1798 - NPG D12663 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

'Doublures of characters; - or - striking resemblances in phisiognomy'

by James Gillray, published by John Wright
hand-coloured aquatint and soft-ground etching, published 1 November 1798
10 3/8 in. x 14 1/4 in. (262 mm x 362 mm) plate size; 10 5/8 in. x 14 5/8 in. (270 mm x 370 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12663


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Artistsback to top

  • James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
  • John Wright (active 1798), Publisher. Artist associated with 9 portraits.

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No political figure or public event was safe from the biting wit of James Gillray, the late eighteenth century's leading caricaturist. In 1798, he published Doublûres of Characters; -- or - striking Resemblances in Physiognomy. This explicit print played on the recent success of Lavater's Essay. By manipulating the principle that heart and face were essentially connected, Gillray ironically unveiled the 'true' faces of the opposition party by pairing their public face with its corrupted countertype. So, for example, we see 'The Patron of Liberty' turned into 'The Arch-Fiend' or a 'Character of High Birth' as 'Silenus debauching'.

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