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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

254: Substitutes for Bread

Substitutes for Bread; -or- Right Honorables, Saving the Loaves & Dividing the Fishes Gillray portrays five key politicians greedily shovelling fish and turtle soup made from coins into their mouths, surrounded by bottles of burgundy, port, and champagne, as three footmen carry in steaming dishes of meat. William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister, sits on a large coffer inscribed ‘Treasury’. In front of the table are three bulging sacks, the central one labelled ‘Product of New Taxes upon John Bulls Property’, on which rests a small basket of potatoes inscribed ‘Potatoe Bread to be given in Charity’. The unashamed gluttony of the ruling elite is laid bare as the politicians dine off the taxes of the population. Gillray is criticising the gross disparities of wealth and the unequal access to food, as the ironic subtitle makes plain.

James Gillray (1757–1815)

Published by Hannah Humphrey (c.1745 –1818), 24 December 1795 Etching with hand colouring Given by Lady Violet Beaumont (P.359-1948)

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