Shakespeare Sacrificed or The Offering to Avarice

James Gillray, English, 1756 - 1815



Hand-colored etching and engraving on paper

Sheet: 22 1/2 × 17 in. (57.2 × 43.2 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein



Hannah Humphrey (about 1745-1818), London


Place Made: England, United Kingdom, Europe



Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


The target of this satire is John Boydell (1720–1804), a successful London print publisher and entrepreneur who commissioned paintings based on Shakespeare’s plays with the agreement he would publish and sell engravings after them. In Shakespeare Sacrificed, Gillray pictures Boydell standing in the middle of a magic circle, burning the bard’s plays. Emerging from the smoke are vignettes of the actual paintings that such artists as Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) and Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) made for Boydell. Gillray appears to have a particular hatred of the publisher, perhaps because his first ambition was to be a reproductive engraver and Boydell did not hire him. (Notice the boy with the painter’s palette at the lower left pushing away another boy holding an engraving tool.) Boydell later almost went bankrupt when continental markets dried up after England began its years-long war with France in the late the 1790s.

From the 2021 exhibition A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein Collection, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Katherine W. Hart, Senior Curator of Collections and Barbara C. & Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming; John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director; Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art; and Melissa McCormick, Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at Harvard University

Course History

ENGL 20, Age of Satire, Alysia Garrison, Winter 2014

ENGL 22, The Rise of the Novel, Alysia Garrison, Spring 2015

ARTH 41.03, European Art 1750-1850, Allan Doyle, Winter 2019

ARTH 41.03, European Art 1750 - 1850, Allan Doyle, Summer 2019

Exhibition History

A Space for Dialogue 65, Aggressive Art; Early Caricature and Self-Parody in France and England, Dylan Hayley Leavitt, Class of 2011, The Kathryn Conroy Intern, Main Lobby, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 2-October 2011.

Pinpricks and Pomposity: The Inventiveness of English Visual Satire, A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein Collection, Class of 1967 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 17–August 28, 2021.

Publication History

John R. Stomberg, A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein collection; Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Hood Museum of Art, 2021, Plate 20, p.37, Detail fig. 3.1, p.30, listed p.98.


Andrew Edmunds, London, England; sold to Jane and Raphael Bernstein, Ridgewood, New Jersey, June 17th, 1994; lent to present collection, 2010; given to present collection, 2014.

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