© National Portrait Gallery, London
Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) as Melpomene
by James Gillray, published by James Ridgway Click on the links below to find out more
etching and aquatint, published 6 December 1784
13 1/4 in. x 10 3/8 in. (335 mm x 265 mm) paper size
Given by Sir Herbert Henry Raphael, 1st Bt, 1916
- James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
- James Ridgway (active 1784-1811). Artist associated with 6 portraits.
- NPG D41671: Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) as Melpomene (from same plate)
Theatre proprietor and postal reformer John Palmer runs the first mail coach in England, between Bristol and London. A three day journey is now completed in 16 hours. Commutation Act reduces punitive duties on tea to combat smuggling.
Art and science
Aeronaut James Sadler makes the first hot air balloon flight in Britain, from Oxford to Woodeaton.Chemist Henry Cavendish's paper Experiments on Air
reveals the composition of water.Writer Samuel Johnson dies.Joshua Reynolds succeeds Allan Ramsay as Painter to the King.
Thomas Jefferson's Land Ordinance passed by the United States' Continental Congress, coming into effect the following year. It allows for the sale of land in the largely unmapped west of the country. Britain receives its first bales of cotton from the United States since before the War of American Independence. William Pitt's India Act creates a Board of Control to oversee the affairs of the British East India Company and centralise power.