Skip to main content

Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

252: French Liberty

British Slavery

French Liberty; British Slavery

This well-known satirical print of 1792 compares an emaciated French revolutionary devouring onions and garlic to the archetypal Briton (represented by an obese John Bull, who personified the country) tucking into an enormous joint of roast beef. Here Gillray contrasts the poverty of the French, despite their liberty, to the prosperity of the British, despite their ‘slavery’ under government taxes. These stereotypes belied a different culinary reality. French cooking techniques became fashionable among English elites from the late seventeenth century and had been incorporated into more popular cookery books by the eighteenth century.

James Gillray (1757–1815)

Published by Hannah Humphrey (c.1745–1818), 21 December 1792 Etching with hand colouring Given by Lady Violet Beaumont (P.288-1948)

French Liberty Buy a print
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn RSS feed for events RSS feed for stories
University of Cambridge Museums logo Designation scheme Logo Accredited Museum status logo Cambridge City Council Logo Arts Council England Logo Research England logo