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Sir Lumley St George Skeffington (' - "so Skiffy-skipt on, with his wonted grace" - ')

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Sir Lumley St George Skeffington (' - "so Skiffy-skipt on, with his wonted grace" - ')

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 1 February 1800
10 in. x 7 7/8 in. (255 mm x 201 mm) plate size; 11 3/4 in. x 9 in. (298 mm x 230 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12722

Sitterback to top

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

This print satirises aristocratic fashion and manners in the age of the dandy. The prancing, pirouetting Sir Lumley St George Skeffington lacks much of the harsh invective of so many of Gillray's personal satires. The alliterative title further enhances the figure's endearing frivolity. Inspired by his appearance at Queen Charlotte's birthday two weeks before, the print ridicules Skeffington, a friend of the Prince of Wales and Beau Brummel, for his foppish dress and well-rouged cheeks just visible above an intricately tied neck cloth. The diarist Captain R.H. Gronow recalled that Skeffington 'used to paint his face so that he looked like a French toy…He was remarkable for his politeness and for his courtly manners; in fact he was invited everywhere and was very popular with the ladies'.

Placesback to top

Events of 1800back to top

Current affairs

Widespread food riots after poor harvests of 1798-9. Theorist, Thomas Malthus, controversially argues that poverty and food shortages are an inevitable consequence of population growth, challenging assumptions that populousness was a sign of national prosperity and power. His thesis contributed forcefully to the debate over the existing Poor Law.

Art and science

William Wordsworth publishes his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads; a retrospective explanation of his experimental poems written with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It becomes one of the best-known manifestos of Romantic literature.

International

Lord Castlereagh, Chief Secretary for Ireland, is the main architect of the Act of Union under which Ireland is merged with Great Britain and the Irish parliament is abolished.
British troops support successful uprising by Maltese against the French.
Napoleon is victorious against Austrians at Marengo and reconquers Italy.

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