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King George IV ('A voluptuary under the horrors of digestion')

9 of 27 portraits matching these criteria:

- subject matching 'Gillray in Focus'

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King George IV ('A voluptuary under the horrors of digestion')

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured stipple engraving, published 2 July 1792
14 1/4 in. x 11 3/8 in. (363 mm x 290 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12460

Sitterback to top

  • King George IV (1762-1830), Regent 1811-19; Reigned 1820-30. Sitter associated with 269 portraits.

Artistsback to top

  • James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
  • Hannah Humphrey (circa 1745-1818), Publisher and printseller. Artist associated with 718 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

James Gillray showed no mercy in this caricature of the overweight Prince of Wales. Earlier in the century his corpulence would have been unremarkable, but by the Regency period the fashionable male silhouette was much slimmer. The Prince almost bursts out of his buff-coloured waistcoat and breeches while his blue coat, cut away into tails, would never fasten. These colours were associated with the Whig leader and fellow libertine, Charles James Fox, with whom George was close friends. The Prince had always been interested in fashion and his starched white cravat would have marked him out as a man of style. Through the window is a view of this unfinished palace, Carlton House. Above his head is Tintorettos' portrait of Luigi Conaro who reformed his life of youthful excess and adopted on of rigourous asceticism, living to the age of 91. The prince seems oblivious to the sarcasm.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D12461: 'Temperance enjoying a frugal meal' (Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; King George III) (companion portrait)
  • NPG D33359: 'A voluptuary under the horrors of digestion' (King George IV) (from same plate)

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Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1792back to top

Current affairs

The famous seven year trial of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal, on charges of embezzlement and murder, ends with his acquittal. Pro-Revolutionary philosopher Joseph Priestley's house is destroyed by a mob on the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. Their actions are later seen as a key moment in the defeat of Enlightenment ideals in England.

Art and science

Mary Wollstonecraft publishes A Vindication of the Rights of Woman; a radical work which called on women to be allies to one another; fearless in their support and free in their criticism.
Sir Joshua Reynolds dies and is succeeded by Benjamin West as President of the Royal Academy.


The mob invades the Tuileries and the French Royal Family is imprisoned marking the end of France's experiment with constitutional monarchy and the declaration of the first French Republic.
The Revolutionary Commune is established in Paris.
France declares war on Austria and then Prussia.

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