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Love Bites: Caricatures by James Gillray

Exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 21 June. A fresh look at James Gillray’s work
Love Bites considers Gillray amongst a canon of artists of love that includes Rubens, Boucher, Renoir, Brancusi and Schiele

Love Bites marks the 200th anniversary of the death of the great caricaturist James Gillray (1756–1815).

James Gillray’s political and social satires were the Private Eye of his day – unflinchingly cruel at times, but keenly anticipated and collected.

This exhibition at the Ashmolean takes a fresh look at Gillray’s work, focusing on the unusual angle of his portrayal of marriages and alliances, be they sexual, political or bizarrely anatomical.

It also explores Gillray’s devotion to high art and his classical training and shows how Rubens, in particular, was a key influence.

The exhibition features sixty works taken from the outstanding collection of New College, Oxford, one of the greatest and best-preserved groups of Gillray’s work.

This surprising aspect of Gillray’s work uncovers a new vitality in his pictures, demonstrating that the acerbic and robust Gillray was not only the leading caricaturist of his time, but also a hallmark figure of modernity.

Beyond his own lifetime, Love Bites considers Gillray amongst a canon of artists of love that includes Rubens, Boucher, Renoir, Brancusi and Schiele. The exhibition will contain both well-known and little-known prints by the artist, juxtaposed in such a way as to throw new light on their subjects.

Unusually for Gillray’s prints, many of the works in the New College collection have never been exhibited and therefore retain their original vivid and intense hand-colouring. £6/£5 concessions

 

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