The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

39 portraits matching these criteria:

- subject matching 'Literary and classical references'

Not found what you are looking for? Try our Advanced search

Gillray’s caricatures were not cheap. They were sold to an educated audience who were aware of the political scene and at the same time were able to decipher the prints’ sometimes complex literary allusions. Literary references ranged from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels in The King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver (D13104) to Shakespeare: Taming of the shrew : - Katharine & Petruchio : - the modern Quixotte, or what you will (D12416). Classical references are more frequent and typified by The Fall of Icarus (D13044). This shows Lord Temple with disintegrating wings formed from the pens and stationery he was said to have appropriated after leaving government office.

List Thumbnail

'Tom Jones, Partridge and the Beggar', by James Gillray, published by  Thomas Macklin - NPG D12285

'Tom Jones, Partridge and the Beggar'

by James Gillray, published by Thomas Macklin
stipple engraving, published 14 September 1780
NPG D12285

'Sophia, Honour and the Chambermaid', by James Gillray, published by  Thomas Macklin - NPG D12286

'Sophia, Honour and the Chambermaid'

by James Gillray, published by Thomas Macklin
stipple engraving, published 1 August 1780
NPG D12286

'Bonus Melior Optimus or the devil's the best of the bunch' (Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford; Charles James Fox), by James Gillray, published by  William Humphrey - NPG D12338

'Bonus Melior Optimus or the devil's the best of the bunch' (Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford; Charles James Fox)

by James Gillray, published by William Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 22 April 1783
NPG D12338

Samuel Johnson ('Apollo and the muses, inflicting penance on Dr Pomposo, round Parnassus'), by James Gillray, published by  William Holland - NPG D12342

Samuel Johnson ('Apollo and the muses, inflicting penance on Dr Pomposo, round Parnassus')

by James Gillray, published by William Holland
hand-coloured etching, published 29 July 1783
NPG D12342

'

'"This is a sorry sight!" - Macbeth - scene, a lodging in Bond Street'

by James Gillray
hand-coloured etching and aquatint, published circa 1786
NPG D13047

'Dido forsaken', by James Gillray, published by  Samuel William Fores - NPG D12994

'Dido forsaken'

by James Gillray, published by Samuel William Fores
hand-coloured etching, published 21 May 1787
NPG D12994

'The fall of Phaeton' (King George IV; Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe)), by James Gillray, published by  Samuel William Fores - NPG D12997

'The fall of Phaeton' (King George IV; Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe))

by James Gillray, published by Samuel William Fores
hand-coloured etching, published 1 July 1788
NPG D12997

'Shakespeare sacrificed; - or - the offering to avarice' (John Boydell), by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D13069

'Shakespeare sacrificed; - or - the offering to avarice' (John Boydell)

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and aquatint, published 20 June 1789
NPG D13069

'Wierd sisters; ministers of darkness; minions of the moon', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12436

'Wierd sisters; ministers of darkness; minions of the moon'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and aquatint, published 23 December 1791
NPG D12436

'Oh! That this too too solid flesh would melt', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12413

'Oh! That this too too solid flesh would melt'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 20 March 1791
NPG D12413

'Taming of the shrew : - Katharine & Petruchio : - the modern Quixotte, or what you will', by James Gillray, published by  Samuel William Fores - NPG D12416

'Taming of the shrew : - Katharine & Petruchio : - the modern Quixotte, or what you will'

by James Gillray, published by Samuel William Fores
hand-coloured etching, published 20 April 1791
NPG D12416

'The dagger scene; - or - the plot discover'd', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12467

'The dagger scene; - or - the plot discover'd'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 30 December 1792
NPG D12467

'Polonius', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12523

'Polonius'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 18 May 1795
NPG D12523

'My Poll and my partner Joe', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12565

'My Poll and my partner Joe'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured stipple engraving, published 18 April 1796
NPG D12565

'Cymon and Iphigenia', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12569

'Cymon and Iphigenia'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured stipple engraving, published 2 May 1796
NPG D12569

Charles James Fox ('The Republican-Hercules defending his country'), by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12599

Charles James Fox ('The Republican-Hercules defending his country')

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 19 February 1797
NPG D12599

'Homer singing his verses to the Greeks' (Charles Morris; Richard Brinsley Sheridan; Charles James Fox), by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12619

'Homer singing his verses to the Greeks' (Charles Morris; Richard Brinsley Sheridan; Charles James Fox)

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 16 June 1797
NPG D12619

Samuel Ireland ('Notorious characters. No 1'), by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12629

Samuel Ireland ('Notorious characters. No 1')

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
stipple engraving, published 1 December 1797
NPG D12629

'Shrine at St Ann's Hill', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12650

'Shrine at St Ann's Hill'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured aquatint, published 26 May 1798
NPG D12650

'Opposition telegraphs; - or - the little second-sighted lawyer giving a true specimen of patriotic information', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12655

'Opposition telegraphs; - or - the little second-sighted lawyer giving a true specimen of patriotic information'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 23 June 1798
NPG D12655