A Post-Halloween Treat

James Gillray (1757-1815), A phantasmagoria; - Scene - Conjuring-Up an Armed-Skeleton, 1803. Etching and aquatint with hand coloring. GC108 James Gillray Collection. Graphic Arts GA 2006.01362. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

Here we see Prime Minister Henry Addington (left), Charles James Fox (right background), and Lord Hawkesbury, the Foreign Secretary, as the three witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The skeleton of Britannia that rises from the pot, where a British lion is being cooked, is the result of the Treaty of Amiens that was signed on March 27, 1802. The Treaty brought peace between the French Republic and England, although it only lasted one year.

The artist James Gillray, and many others, felt the Treaty left Britain without many of the strengths she once had. By 1803, tensions were again escalating and in January, Gillray added to the flames by publishing this print. Note the papers being feed into the fire are inscribed: Dominion of the Sea, Egypt, Malta, and so on, which are some of the things England had given up. By May a declaration of war was laid before Parliament and the Great French War began all over again.