Man-midwives attempting to deliver a monstrous woman representing the Dutch National Convention. Etching attributed to James Gillray, 1796, after David Hess.
- Hess, David, 1770-1843.
About this work
In the centre sits a woman with seven heads of different animals. Her legs are spread and a devil is pulling on a looped cord or pushing a pitchfork up beneath her clothes. To left and right of her are two man-midwives. On the left is an old-fashioned Dutchman who wears spectacles and a wig and consults a book labelled "Sectio caes: et sectio synchondroseos". On the right is a modern revolutionary Frenchman who does not wear a wig and holds a pair of crude forceps. The first Dutch National Convention (Nationale Vergadering) took place from 1 March 1796 to 31 August 1797
De Nationale Conventie in barensnood van eene constitutie.
[London] : [H. Humphrey?], [1797?]
1 print : etching, printed in sanguine ; platemark 27.6 x 21.8 cm
Accompanied in the series by text from Old Testament selected from a concordance by Hess (Eschmann p. 69), Isaiah XIV, 29: "Her fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent"
British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, vol. 7, London 1942, no. 8864
Ernst Eschmann, David Hess (1770-1843): sein Leben und seine Werke, Aarau 1910, pp. 68-72
Wellcome Library no. 723664i
Eschmann p. 70 says that the drawings by Hess were "von dem berühmten englischen Kupferstecher Humphries radiert und in London gedruckt. Zugleich verbesserte er Zeichnungsfehler, hob die characteristischen Elemente des Originals mehr heraus und brachte das Ganze noch durch Schattierung in Haltung". The Harvard catalogue (Hollis plus, 2001) says for that reason that the attribution to Gillray is wrong. Yet as the British Museum catalogue says, in view of the figure-style, it is more reasonable to infer from these words that the drawings were entrusted to Hannah Humphrey to have etched and published, and that Gillray, whose prints she published, did the etching, than to suppose that William Humphrey or Ozias Humphry did the etching in the manner of Gillray
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