London: Henry Bohn, 1847. Etching. Image measures 12.5 x 15.75."
This print comments on the pathetic attempt in September 1792 by British emissaries to flatter the Chinese Emperor with gifts such as toys and other curiosities in their efforts to improve trade relations for British merchant firms such as the East India Company, which had long had a monopoly over the spice trade with Southeast Asia and also served as an instigator of British imperialism into places such as India and China. Struggling to entertain the elderly Emperor Qianlong, the leader of the British embassy, Viscount George Macartney and his large party presents the Chinese court with "wonders" of British ingenuity such as model ships and a miniature of George III. Hardly impressed, the Emperor Qianlong disdainfully blows pipe-smoke into the face of Macartney who alone was not obligated to kowtow to the emperor. Behind Macartney, the other British emissaries attempt to kowtow. This diplomatic mission was largely unsuccessful and Macartney was dismissed a week after his only meeting with the emperor. This edition of Gillray's etching was published by Henry Bohn, who, between 1845-1851, published numerous volumes of prints from the artist's original plates. The print is in good condition with some chips and tears to the edges. James Gillray (1756-1816) was a British caricaturist and printmaker who used impressive manipulation of the human form to create some of the most biting satire of the period. With subjects ranging from ladies' fashion to the Napoleonic Wars, Gillray' ridicule of leaders such as Napoleon all the way to George III were rarely rivaled in their sardonic humor or their originality. Thus, the print appears as exemplary of the work for which Gillray is famous.