Auctions | December 12, 2019

Collection of Works by James Gillray at Bonhams

Courtesy of Bonhams

London — An important collection of more than 80 works by the leading 18th-century caricaturist James Gillray is a highlight at Bonhams Prints and Multiples sale on Wednesday 18th December in Knightsbridge. The etchings, that span the last three decades of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, capture Gillray’s outstanding body of political and social satire.
Many of the etchings from this collection illustrate historically significant moments including Gillray’s L'Assemblée Nationale; a rare print showing Charles James Fox, a prominent British Whig statesman and other opponents of the government of the day, holding a reception with the Prince Regent. The Prince Regent later paid for these prints to be destroyed but the plate managed to survived.
The number of works that Gillray produced at this time reflected the mood of the British public. Capitalising on the upper-class’s demand and curiosity for engaging content, the etchings would be posted daily on the shopfront window of Gillray’s publisher-printseller Hannah Humphrey’s print shop. The hand-coloured etchings allowed an alternative form of political criticism to the current conservative newspaper format.
Bonhams Prints Department Director at Knightsbridge, Carolin von Massenbach, said “James Gillray is the father of political cartoon and his large collection represents an outstanding body of work that has been exceptionally well-preserved. The extensively hand-coloured works reveal Gillray’s virtuosity as both a printmaker and a celebrated colourist.”
Other highlights from the sale include a wide range of works from Old Master printmakers such as Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt to works by modern masters including Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Highlights include:
    •    Banksy’s Girl With Balloon that has an estimate of £50,000 – £70,000.
    •    Harland Miller’s artist’s proof Overcoming Optimism. Estimate £12,000 – 18,000.
    •    Richard Hamilton’s I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas. Estimate £6,000-8,000.
    •    Two light installations by Chris Bracey including SEXY, 2001 and FISH, 2000. Both have an estimate of £10,000-15,000.