I have long had an interest in caricature and cartoons, and in particular the caricatures of Gillray. This book brings together a really excellent collection of caricatures charting the history of the reign of George III (and the companion volume charting the era of the Prince Regent and his subsequent reign as George IV is equally handsomely assembled).
This was a period when, despite wars, revolutions, and anti-sedition laws, caricaturists such as Hogarth, Gillray and Cruikshank provided biting and vicious commentary on the events and personalities of the time, without, it seems, necessarily being suppressed much by the authorities. This is probably because they all had powerful patrons who protected them, and they seem to have been willing to switch the targets of their satire on the basis of who was prepared to put their hands in their pockets to support them. Even patronage did not guarantee that individuals did not get pilloried, however.
The commentary by Kenneth Baker is helpful and informative and gives useful historical context. (Who knew, when he was Education Secretary, that he was as erudite as this? Pity it didn't bleed through into his policies).
The importance of caricatures in getting across political ideas is clearly communicated; perhaps there are echoes of this nowadays in a modern context with the Photoshopping of political posters to present alternative points of view. (It's better than all that tedious twittering, anyway).
I still think Gillray represents the epitome of the caricaturist's art from this period, and I only wish that Thames and Hudson would publish a volume like this collecting his work together. I have tried on many occasions to find such a collection, and apart from one that was published when an exhibition of his work was mounted some years ago, and which is now out of print, I can find no current volumes that are in print. (Hint, hint)