Artwork - An excrescence - a fungus; alias a toadstool upon a dunghill

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  • Title: An excrescence - a fungus; alias a toadstool upon a dunghill
  • Artist: James Gillray
  • Date: 1791--
  • Medium: Coloured etching
  • Dimensions: 26.5cm (h) x 22.1cm (w) x - (d) x - (dia)
  • Categories: Political satire
  • Catalogue number: WOA 3851
  • Description: Political caricature depicting William Pitt as a political mushroom (toadstool) engrafting itself upon the Crown (dunghill). In the public arena Pitt frequently proved a ripe subject for the satirical eye of the caricaturist. As a result of the Regency crisis (1788-9), when King George III temporarily lost his reason, Pitt was increasingly portrayed as an ambitious parvenu Intent on curtailing the power of the monarchy. In fact he was fighting for his political life; if the Prince of Wales had been created regent, Charles James Fox would have been appointed Prime Minister. The possible inspiration for this particular caricature was a comment made (perhaps in the House of Commons) likening Pitt to a type of political mushroom feeding on the compost of royal patronage. Gillray shows the Prime Minister with a swollen, blotchy face, an allusion to his well know dependence on alcohol.

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