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'The pigs possessed: - or - the Broad Bottom'd litter running headlong into ye sea of perdition'

4 of 7 portraits of Richard Fitzpatrick

'The pigs possessed: - or - the Broad Bottom'd litter running headlong into ye sea of perdition', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey, published 18 April 1807 - NPG D12888 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

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'The pigs possessed: - or - the Broad Bottom'd litter running headlong into ye sea of perdition'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 18 April 1807
16 1/4 in. x 11 7/8 in. (412 mm x 302 mm) plate size; 16 3/4 in. x 12 1/8 in. (426 mm x 309 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12888

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.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

The 'Ministry of All the Talents' was a coalition government formed under William Wyndham Grenville after the Tory William Pitt's death in January 1806. The members of the 'Ministry of All the Talents' were known as 'Broadbottoms' because of their wide political spectrum and their large posteriors. They are imagined here transformed into suicidal swine throwing themselves into the sea. George III is returned to his role as the long-suffering 'Farmer George', herding his unruly government off the edge of the cliff. A tardy Sheridan, reluctant to quit office, is kicked away to join the others. The fall of this coalition ministry after only 15 months in office was precipitated by the King's strong opposition to the Army Bill which proposed to extend Catholic emancipation to the armed forces.

Placesback to top

Events of 1807back to top

Current affairs

Act is passed abolishing the British slave trade after vigorous campaigning by hundreds of thousands of people led by Thomas Clarkson and championed in parliament by reformer William Wilberforce.
Resignation of 'Ministry of all the Talents'. Whig politician William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, Duke of Portland, succeeds as Prime Minister.

Art and science

Thomas Hope publishes Household Furniture and Interior Decoration; influential in promoting Greek and especially Egyptian models as the epitome of fashionable style.


French invasion of Spain and Portugal.
Britain occupies Copenhagen and captures the Danish fleet.
Napoleon begins to wage an economic battle against Britain, recognising the impossibility of victory at sea because of Britain's superior naval power. He aims to close the entire European coastline to British trade.

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