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A Tub for the Whale!

A work made of hand-colored etching and aquatint on cream wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of hand-colored etching and aquatint on cream wove paper.


published March 14, 1806


James Gillray (English, 1756-1815)
published by Hannah Humphrey (English, c. 1745-1818)

About this artwork

James Gillray’s political satires often included biblical and nautical references. This etching bears a lengthy secondary title, which may have clarified the subject matter for contemporaries: “Representing an Empty-Barrel tossed out to amuse the great Leviathan John-Bull, in order to divert him from instantly laying violent hands upon the new Coalition Packet.” The monstrous whale with “John Bull” horns symbolizes the British nation (as personified by the heroic and comedic archetype, John Bull), who attacks a packet boat steered by an unpopular new political group.


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Prints and Drawings


James Gillray


A Tub for the Whale!


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Published 1806


Hand-colored etching and aquatint on cream wove paper


Image: 23.2 × 35 cm (9 3/16 × 13 13/16 in.); Plate: 24.5 × 35.4 cm (9 11/16 × 13 15/16 in.); Sheet: 25.8 × 37.5 cm (10 3/16 × 14 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas F. Furness in memory of William McCallin McKee

Reference Number


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