In this image from the late 1780s James Gillray demonstrates the biting satire and wit that drew such wide acclaim during his lifetime. Here Gillray lampoons Warren Hastings, the governor of Bengal, whose extraction of finances from Indian rulers in order to fill the coffers of the British government later led to his impeachment by Parliament for corruption.
James Gillray is considered to be one of the finest caricaturists of the Georgian period; his dark, often sinister imagery and keen observations won praise from his followers, many of whom were to be seen crowding around print-shop windows whenever new editions were published. Apprenticed first as an engraver in London, Gillray then attempted to launch himself as a conventional artist by studying at the Royal Academy School. But it was in caricature that Gillray found his true calling. He is thought to have published over a thousand satires during his lifetime, drawing special attention for his lampooning of George III and the royal family and – perhaps most famously – for his satirising of Napoleon and revolutionary France.