The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VI. Caricature and the Literature of Sport

§ 2. Gillray

Between 1780 and 1785, the supremacy of Sayer was challenged and overthrown by a Scottish caricaturist, James Gillray. Gillray’s first caricature was an engraving of lord North, published anonymously in 1769. Till 1780, he was chiefly engaged on social subjects; after 1782, his work was almost exclusively political. He published in that year a series of designs concerning Rodney’s victory over De Grasse off Dominica. By 1811, when he became imbecile, he had executed some 1500 caricatures, and won a unique position in his art. The lesson that Hogarth had taught, Gillray mainly neglected. His work is savage and brutal; he can be as bitter as Swift and as crossgrained and coarse as Smollett. But his vigour was great and his invention fertile; and he demands mention in this chapter because he passed on the lamp to his young friend Thomas Rowlandson. But, before considering Rowlandson and another of his friends, Bunbury, it is necessary to go back and pick up another thread of the story.