Organised by Todd Porterfield, Université de Montréal; Martin Myrone, Tate Britain; and Michael Burden, New College, Oxford; with Ersy Contogouris, Université de Montréal.
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Gillray’s death, and in conjunction with the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition, Love Bites: Caricatures of James Gillray (26 March-21 June 2015), based on New College's outstanding collection, a two-day symposium was organised at the Ashmolean Museum to hear and see the latest Gillray scholarship.
James Gillray’s reputation in the two centuries since his death has been as varied and layered as his prints. Trained at the Royal Academy, he failed at reproductive printmaking, yet became, according to the late-eighteenth-century Weimar journal London und Paris, one of the greatest European artists of the era. Napoleon, from his exile on St Helena, allegedly remarked that Gillray's prints did more to run him out of power than all the armies of Europe. In England, patriots had hired him to propagandize against the French and touted him as a great national voice, but he was an unreliable gun-for-hire. At a large public banquet, during the heat of anti-Revolutionary war fever, he even raised a toast to his fellow artist, the regicide, Jacques-Louis David. Gillray produced a highly individual, highly schooled, and often outlandish body of work with no clear moral compass that undermines the legend of the caricaturist as the voice and heart of the people.
Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 March 2015
The Ashmolean Museum