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Five elderly ladies caricatured as young women performing a sacrifice in a classical tableau. Etching by J. Gillray, 1787.

Gillray, James, 1756-1815.
May 12th 1787


Free to use with attribution CC BYCredit: Wellcome Collection
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The fat Albinia Hobart, in profile to the right, pours incense on the flames of the altar; in her right hand is an open book, 'Ninon' (presumably the letters of the courtesan Ninon de Lenclos). Behind her (left) the aquiline Lady Archer leads a lamb garlanded with roses; she guides the animal with a riding-whip. Elizabeth Jefferies walks beside Lady Archer holding a basket of flowers. On the extreme left Lady Mount-Edgcumbe, aged and bent, holds a dove in each hand. On the right of the altar Lady Cecilia Johnstone plays a lyre. The altar is decorated with rams' heads, a heart, arrows, and roses. A sculptured group of the three Graces stands in an alcove in the wall above the altar. In the background (left) is a mountain peak, Parnassus, on which sits a tiny figure of Apollo, playing a fiddle, the sun irradiating his head.(adapted from Dorothy George's description in the British Museum online catalogue, loc. cit.) Of Albinia Hobart (from 1793 Countess of Buckinghamshire), the Oxford dictionary of national biography says: "Leading a separate life from her husband, she became well known for her lavish assemblies and for her dramatic performances, which usually featured herself and her daughters, and were often staged at Nocton Hall or at the Hobarts' house on Ham Common. This was modelled on Frederick the Great's villa and named Sans-Souci after it. In 1784 she joined the campaign of her relative Sir Cecil Wray in the notorious Westminster election. She was not the highest in rank of the ladies who supported Wray, the ministerial candidate, nor even the most active, but her obese figureher appearance was likened to a beefsteakmade her a target for satirists seeking a subject who could be contrasted with the Foxite whig campaigner and renowned beauty Georgiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire. She could also, like Wray, be charged with apostasy, as most of her social circle were supporters of Fox"


London (New Bond Street) : H. Humphrey, May 12th 1787.

Physical description

1 print : etching ; image 24 x 34.8=7 cm


La belle assemblêe. Here love his golden shafts employs; here lights his constant lamp; and waves his purple wings; reigns here and revels. Milton



  • English

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Five elderly ladies caricatured as young women performing a sacrifice in a classical tableau. Etching by J. Gillray, 1787. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

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