A spectacular, clever and very rare textile commemorating the eventful half-century reign of George III of England.
This remarkable image consists of a central portrait of George III, from which emanate two spiraling chronologies for the years 1760-1812. The inner spiral documents the terms in office of hundreds of “ministers and public men,” the outer lists major happenings during the monarch’s eventful reign. There is of course much coverage given to the latter stages of the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the opening battles of the War of 1812. The corners are adorned with large portraits of Fox, Nelson, Pitt and Wellington and the sides with the arms of the House of Hanover, St. Edward’s Crown and the mottos “Dieu et mon droit” and “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”
The chronology is remarkable for the use of concentric spirals, a format I have not encountered anywhere else (Cartographies of Time, the now-standard work on the subject, does not illustrate any chronologies using this style.) The format is well suited to the subject matter, however, as it places George III both literally and figuratively at the center of events.
The chronology includes the Prince of Wales assumption of the Regency in February 1811, and the last-mentioned date is July 1812, suggesting that the image was published in the latter half of that year. This timing seems odd, however: Why commemorate the reign of George III just after he had been removed from power on account of mental incapacitation? Perhaps the image was published by a Whig sympathizer, resentful of the Regent’s continued support for a Tory Ministry and seeking to exploit nostalgia for the deposed monarch. Indeed, the chronology’s description of the years 1811-1812—including riots in industrial cities, the assassination of Prime Minister Perceval, and a new war with the United States—suggest a nation descending into chaos under the Prince Regent.
Other examples of the textile are held by the Metropolitan Museum of art and the Victoria & Albert Museum. The V&A impression is printed in blue on white silk.
In all, a fascinating image and a most impressive display piece.
Some foxing, else sound.