TV personality, writer and journalist Ian Hislop and British Museum Curator Tom Hockenhull are launching a new exhibition of satirical prints at Newstead Abbey.

A Peacock outside the Abbey

Ian Hislop is no stranger to satire, having carved a successful career as editor of Private Eye magazine, panellist on Have I Got News For You and as co-curator of the recent British Museum’s major Citi exhibition I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent. Together with British Museum Curator Tom Hockenhull, Ian has selected nine of his favourite British satirical prints by Gillray and Cruikshank, among others, which will go on display at Newstead Abbey this summer in this British Museum Spotlight Loan The golden age of satire? Late-Georgian satirical prints.

On 25 July, in a sold-out evening of discussion, Ian and Tom will reflect on the role of satire and subversion in a special private exhibition opening event at Newstead Abbey. The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday 27 July.

The first modern political caricatures were invented in Britain during the eighteenth century, often referred to as the ‘golden age’ of satire.  Rude, crude and very funny – echoing Lord Byron’s own humour and political attacks at the time – the works in this exhibition were at the cutting edge of eighteenth-century satire, shaping contemporary views of the Georgian monarchy. Laughter, it transpires, really is the best medicine, ruthlessly exposing society’s injustices and holding a mirror to the worst excesses of its ruling elite.

Following the British Museum’s major 2018 exhibition, this British Museum Spotlight Loan explores how a small group of printmakers – Gillray, Cruikshank, Rowlandson and Newton – mercilessly skewered the worst excesses of the British monarchy between about 1790 and 1820. Set against a febrile atmosphere of reform, revolution and war, these prints held a mirror to a dysfunctional and deeply unpopular institution.

Highlights include James Gillray’s much imitated Fashionable Contrasts (1792), an outrageously provocative satire that summons thoughts of the utmost vulgarity, entirely through the size and angle of two pairs of shoes. A generation later, in 1812, George Cruikshank depicted the Prince of ‘Whales’ as a bloated cetacean wallowing in the ‘sea of politics.’

Tom Hockenhull, curator of this Spotlight Loan, said: “Taking these satirical prints to Newstead Abbey is a wonderful way to get more people to see these clever subversions across the UK. This Spotlight Loan provides a fascinating insight into the viciously funny sense of humour of some of the artists of the period, and enriches our understanding of the public perception of the Georgian monarchy.”  

Cllr Dave Trimble, Nottingham City Council Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “This is a great opportunity for people to see these caricatures in the beautiful settings of Lord Byron’s ancestral home.  I am sure the poet, with his own wicked sense of humour, would approve of the mischievous nature of these prints.  It is wonderful to see the British Museum work in partnership with our Museum Service for this exhibition.”

A British Museum Spotlight Loan The golden age of satire? Late-Georgian satirical prints will be displayed in the beautiful settings of the King Charles II bedroom from 27 July until 6 October, alongside a separate exhibition of prints and drawings from contemporary satirical artist and Turner Prize nominee David Shrigley.

British Museum Spotlight Loan –The golden age of satire? Late-Georgian satirical prints
Newstead Abbey, Nottingham 27 July – 6 October 2019
Generously supported by the Dorset Foundation

For images and further information, please Tristram Aver, Exhibition Curator,

The British Museum
The British Museum has a national presence, working with hundreds of partner organisations across the UK each year through its wide-ranging National Programmes activity. This includes single-object Spotlight Loan tours, touring exhibitions, Partnership Galleries, as well as both short-term and long-term loans, with the lead support of the Dorset Foundation in memory of Harry M Weinrebe. In 2018/19, over 2,800 objects were loaned to 147 venues in the UK, reaching 10.5 million people outside London. National Programmes also facilitates knowledge exchange programmes and trainee schemes to help young people to break into the museum profession. The Museum will continue to develop partnerships across the UK as part of its commitment to sharing the collection as widely as possible.

From Saturday 27 July 2019, throughout the Summer holidays Kids go Free with a full paying adult.  Visit for opening times and visitor information.