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Britannia Between Scylla and Charybdis

A work made of etching in dark brown, with handcoloring, on cream wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching in dark brown, with handcoloring, on cream wove paper.


published April 8, 1793


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

About this artwork

The prolific James Gillray often included Classical nautical references in his contemporary political satires. Around the time of the French Revolution, Gillray depicted the British prime minister William Pitt as the wandering Odysseus, who pilots a small vessel holding the buxom Britannia through a dangerous strait toward the “Haven of Public Happiness.” Pitt attempts to steer between two conflicting forms of government: a whirlpool (Charybdis) on the right, symbolizing the crown and absolute monarchy, and a perilous rock with lurking monster (Scylla) on the left, representing democracy.


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Prints and Drawings


James Gillray


Britannia Between Scylla and Charybdis




Published 1793


Etching in dark brown, with handcoloring, on cream wove paper


278 × 356 mm (image); 303 × 364 mm (plate); 311 × 393 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

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

Reference Number


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