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.
- Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- James Gillray
- A Tub for the Whale!
- Published 1806
- Hand-colored etching and aquatint on cream wove paper
- 232 × 350 mm (image); 245 × 354 mm (plate); 258 × 375 mm (sheet)
- Gift of Thomas F. Furness in memory of William McCallin McKee