Sheridan presented as Francisco Pizarro presented as a physician; representing his loyalty to the British Crown against the Franch Revolution and Bonaparte. Coloured aquatint, 1799.
- Kotzebue, August von, 1761-1819.
- 8 July 1799
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About this work
Sheridan is administering a medicine ("Essence of loyalty"), apparently in the form of smelling salts in a vial, to his patient Charles James Fox: the Duke of Norfolk, King George III and others observe in expectation of a cure. Sheridan is dressed as Francisco Pizarro, referring to his play Pizarro (1799). The play is open to a number of different and inconsistent interpretations. First, the Peruvians are described in the same words as those in which the Indians had been described in Sheridan's speeches against Warren Hastings, leaving Pizarro and the Spanish conquerors to be compared to the British East India Company. Alternatively, the Peruvians are compared to the English, and the Spanish invaders are compared to Bonaparte and the potential invasion of French Revolutionary practices: Sheridan is seen as supporting the British, as loyal to King George III, and as able (through his patent medicine) to convert Charles James Fox to the same loyalty. Finally, the Peruvians are compared to the Irish, and the Spanish conquerors to the English and Scots in Ireland: at the time Sheridan was supporting the United Irishmen in a law suit, but did not support their alliance with France
The present print adopts the second of the three interpretations above: Sheridan is curing Fox of "Jacobin qualms" by administering "Essence of loyalty" to him and to three other supporters of radicals: the Earl of Derby (a sporting associate of Fox), Lord Erskine (who as a barrister had defended radicals in court), and Sir Francis Burdett (opponent of the suspension of Habeas Corpus, supporter of prison reform etc.)
The persons shown are listed below in this catalogue record
- Physician and patient
- Costume |History –18th century
- Great Britain
- Pizarro, Francisco, approximately 1475-1541
- Stanley, Edward George Geoffrey Smith, Earl of Derby, 1775-1851.
- Erskine, Thomas Erskine, Baron, 1750-1823.
- Burdett, Francis, 1770-1844.
- Fox, Charles James, 1749-1806.
- Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 1751-1816.
- Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 1751-1816. Pizarro
- Kotzebue, August von, 1761-1819. Spanier in Peru.
- Norfolk, Charles Howard, Duke of, 1746-1815.
- George III, King of Great Britain, 1738-1820.