James Gillray, the most eminent of English caricaturists, was born in 1757 and studied at the Royal Academy. Gillray worked as an engraver but it is as a caricaturist that he is best known. From 1779 onwards Gillray's improvement was rapid and extraordinary; it is believed he etched his ideas onto the copper plate without making any proper drafts.
For many years he lived with his doting publisher Mrs. Humphrey. During this time he produced nearly all of his best work, which was eagerly bought up and circulated throughout England and Europe. His last work is dated 1811. Shortly afterwards he sank into madness and delirium, once even throwing himself from an upper window of his house. He finally died in 1815.