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Phaeton alarm'd, 1808 (etching)

Phaeton alarm'd, 1808 (etching)


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Phaeton alarm'd, 1808 (etching)

7340077 Phaeton alarm'd, 1808 (etching) by Gillray, James (1757-1815); 34.2x37.7 cm; National Maritime Museum, London, UK; (add.info.: Creator: James Gillray
This satirical print is a fine and striking example of Gillray's use of astronomical imagery to comment on the politics of the day. Since comets and meteors were symbols of change, they lent themselves very well to commentary on events in the Georgian age. George Canning, newly appointed Foreign Secretary, appears as Phaeton riding in his chariot across the heavens, pulled by horses with the faces of fellow cabinet ministers. Canning is shown attacked by the Opposition, who appear as constellations and signs of the zodiac. These include Lord Grenville as Scorpio Broad-Bottom with his claws bearing the heads of Grenville's nephew, Temple, Lord Spencer; the Duke of Bedford, Lord Moira, and Tierney. His bottom forms a glowing ring, containing a chalice with the Host, surrounded by the heads of assorted Whigs. Lord Howick is a fire-breathing python.Gillray suggests that, like Phaeton cast down by Zeus, Canning is losing control of the chariot, whose wheels crush the scales of justice. Gillray may also have hoped to subtly suggest to his patron, Canning, that his campaign against the Danish navy (the crushed scale is labelled Copenhagen') fuelled attacks by the Opposition and contributed to the devastation on the earth below, dominated by Napoleon riding a Russian bear. Fox appears as Pluto in the lower right corner, while in the lower left, the ghost of Pitt, in the guise of Apollo, weeps as he sees his son Phaeton under attack.); © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Media ID 38372214

© © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London / Bridgeman Images

Astrology Constellation Constellations Etching Homme Politique Politician James Gillray Mytholoy Scorpio Scorpion Signs Of Zodiac Skies Star Stars Zodiac Sign Zodiac Signs Mythological Figure


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> Animals > Crustaceans > Scorpion

> Animals > Insects > Scorpions > Related Images

> Arts > Artists > G > James Gillray

> Arts > Artists > H > James Hope

> Arts > Pop art > Satire > Satirical artwork

> Arts > Realistic drawings > Figure drawing > Fine art portraits

> Asia > Georgia > Related Images

> Europe > Denmark > Copenhagen

> Europe > Denmark > Politics

> Europe > Denmark > Posters

> Fine Art Finder > Artists > James Gillray

> Fine Art Finder > Artists > Thomas Rowlandson


EDITORS COMMENTS
This satirical print by James Gillray, titled "Phaeton alarm'd," is a powerful commentary on the political landscape of the Georgian age. Using astronomical imagery, Gillray depicts George Canning, the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, as Phaeton riding in his chariot across the heavens. The horses pulling his chariot have the faces of fellow cabinet ministers, while the Opposition appears as constellations and signs of the zodiac attacking him. Gillray's intricate details and symbolism convey a sense of chaos and turmoil in politics at that time. The crushed scales of justice beneath Phaeton's out-of-control chariot suggest consequences for actions taken by those in power. Additionally, references to events such as Canning's campaign against the Danish navy (labeled 'Copenhagen') add layers of meaning to this complex piece. The inclusion of figures like Napoleon riding a Russian bear and Fox as Pluto further emphasize themes of power struggles and conflict within government. Through this print, Gillray not only provides biting social commentary but also highlights how political decisions can have far-reaching consequences. "Phaeton alarm'd" stands as a testament to Gillray's skill in using art to critique society and shed light on important issues facing his contemporaries.

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