'The Bengal Levee', showing Lord Cornwallis in a crowd of sycophants
Etcher: Gillray, James (1757-1815)
Medium: Etching, coloured
Hand coloured etching by James Gillray (1757-1815) after a sketch, possibly by James Moffat, of 'The Bengal Levee' at Calcutta in West Bengal, published by Gillray and H Humphrey, London, 1792. Marquess Cornwallis (1738-1803) fought in most of the major campaigns in the American War of Independence. He was made Governor-General of India in 1786 and a Marquess in 1792. He held a weekly levee at Government House, making a point of speaking to all those who attended. Here Cornwallis is standing in the inner room on the right, his right hand on his breast and his left in the pocket of his breeches. On the walls underneath the candle scones are copies of some of Thomas Daniell's 'Views of Calcutta'. A number of personalites within the image have been identified, in Dorothy George's 'Catalogue of Personal and Political Satires', including Cudbert Thornhill, with whom Cornwallis is conversing, and behind him, awaiting his turn to speak with the Governor-General, is King Collins. The figures in the foreground are, left to right, Lt. Col. Alexander Ross, Cornwallis's Secretary, talking to Col. John Fullarton, Senior Officer with the Presidency, next to them, John Haldane and the Sub-Treasurer, Claud Benizett, then Col. Auchmuty and William Pye, Collector of the twenty-four Pergunnas. Behind him is the Reverend Thomas Blanchard and behind him is Edward Tiretta of the Bazaar greeting Father Parthanio, a Greek priest, who is wearing robes and a tall hat. James Gillray was originally apprenticed to an engraver and later studied with Francesco Bartolozzi at the Royal Academy. From the late eighteenth century he concentrated on producing political satires and caricatures working mostly for S.W. Fores and William Humphrey, then latterly exclusively for William's sister Hannah.