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Scandal and Satire in Georgian London

A comic romp through the work and times of the print makers of the 1790s and 1800s, a tour through the bustling backstreets of Piccadilly, and a manifesto to return these creatives to the status of ‘national treasure’.

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Alice Loxton


Led by the printmakers James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and Isaac Cruikshank, Piccadilly Mad Men addresses an entire network of print sellers, printmakers, publishers, booksellers and customers who were the living, breathing heart of this fluid group – some were loners, most were introspective depressives, all drank heavily, and many died from alcohol poisoning.

Yet from dimly lit taverns, drenched in alcohol, coffee and the stench of Georgian London, the YBAs of the turn of the 19th century produced some of the most wacky, impactful creative output Britain has ever seen.

Combining scathing wit, prolific daring and absurdism worthy of Dali, print makers could change the world with an image. The sole reason we think of Napoleon as a short man, is down to the work of James Gillray. According to Napoleon, a Gillray print was more effective than a dozen British generals.

With their pulse on the national mood, this network captured and articulated British humour, setting the precedent for how we laugh today.