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French Liberty | British slavery

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James Gillray

Collections record: P.288-1948


This is an example of a two-compartment composition, which was a popular format during the 1790s because it allowed for direct contrasts. Here, a new figure emerges: that of the sans culotte. So-called in France because they wore full trousers rather than knee-breaches, in England the term was translated in literal sense as ‘without trousers’. The Frenchman thanks his country for his freedom while munching on raw onions, while his English counterpart gorges on a table of food as he curses his taxes. The use of a well-fed John Bull was a popular choice when used in contrast with the French revolutionaries as the juxtaposition emphasised England’s prosperity while simultaneously denigrating France.

Given by Lady Violet Beaumont, 1948 (P.288-1948)

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