Lot 3
  • 3


20,000 - 30,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • James Gillray
  • ‘Consequences of a successful French Invasion... or... We fly on the wings of the wind to save the Irish Catholics from persecution’
  • paper
311 by 400mm., pen ink and watercolour, signed, mounted, framed and glazed, some minor creases


The Draper Hill Collection EXHIBITED:

‘Images of Power: From the Jeffrey Archer Cartoon Collection', Monnow Valley Arts, 3 September - 30 October 2011; 'The Long Nineteenth Century: Treasures And Pleasures', Chris Beetles Gallery, March-April 2014, No 20; ‘Great British Drawings’, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 26 March-31 August 2015


published on 6 March 1798

Catalogue Note

In 1796, following the success of Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign in Northern Italy, Britain began to consider negotiating peace with France. A pamphlet arguing against this peace, written by the Irish Statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797), was accompanied by a cartoon by Gillray entitled ‘Promis’d Horrors of the French Invasion, – or – Forcible Reasons for Negociating a Regicide Peace’; an image of French troops marching up St James’s Street. By early 1798, the leaders of the French Directory had secured the occupation of Switzerland, Piedmont and the Papal States. In Britain there was fear of an impending invasion. In response to this fear, Scottish lawyer and historian Sir John Dalrymple (1726-1810) approached James Gillray to produce a series of loyalist, anti-Jacobin prints that ‘might rouse all the People to an active Union against that Invasion; at a time when about five Millions of Vultures, with Beaks and Claws, hover over them; and when the Indolence and Divisions of the people themselves are more alarming than all foreign Enemies’. However, when hoped-for government funds to support the project were not forthcoming, it was abandoned with just four plates completed. Of the other completed plates in the Consequences of a Successful French Invasion, ‘We Explain de Rights of Man to de Noblesse’ depicts the defilement of the House of Lords, ‘We Come to recover your long lost Liberties’ depicts the enslavement of the House of Commons, whilst ‘We teach the English Republicans to work’ shows English prisoners being forced to plough a field.

‘We Fly on the Wings of the Wind to Save the Irish Catholics from Persecution’ represents what it was believed the French would do to the Roman Catholic Church in England and Ireland. Before the Revolution began, the Roman Catholic Church in France held approximately 10% of the kingdom’s land and was exempt from paying tax to the government, causing a great amount of resentment. On 12 July 1790 the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed, turning the clergy into employees of the state. This established an election system for priests and bishops, which many Catholics objected to because it effectively denied the authority of the Pope. In November 1790, the French National Assembly began to require an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution from all members of the clergy. This led to a schism in the church as only 24% of clergymen took the oath. The high level of refusal led to legislation against the clergy and many were exiled, deported or executed as traitors. During ‘The Terror’, extreme de-Christianization ensued, including imprisonment and massacre of priests and the destruction of churches and religious images.