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Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians [?]
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians [?]
c.1753 (undated)
Graphite on medium, blue laid paper with rough texture mounted on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper
129 x 198 mm
5 1/16 x 7 13/16 in.
View of a seashore with a gigantic naked figure lying in the right foreground, surrounded by miniature people
Purchased 1975
Unsigned; inscribed in graphite lower centre: 'Gulliver in Lilliput'
It has been suggested that Wilson's inspiration for this curious composition came from Swift's Gulliver's Travels or alternatively the description by the ancient author Philostratus (Imagines, II, 22) of Hercules among the Pygmies (see Bibliography, J. K. Welcher & R. Joseph and R. Halsband respectively).
D53/13Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 13, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
E60/8 John Whessell after Wilson, Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Figure lying in the right Foreground, The British Museum
E60/8A John Whessell after Wilson, Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Giant lying in the right Foreground, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
The political satire, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift was first published in 1726 with the title, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships. Immediately popular, it was amended in 1735 and remained a universal favourite throughout the 18th century and beyond. D53/13 may illustrate Part 1, describing Gulliver's first voyage, when he is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself the prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. Alternatively the subject may be the classical one of Hercules among the Pygmies, which would accord witrh Wilson's known familiarity with ancient authors and explain the gigantic figure's apparent nudity.
Object ID: 12662
Solkin 1982, pp. 152, 157; J.K. Welcher & R. Joseph, 'Gulliverian Drawings by Richard Wilson' Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 18, no. 2 (Winter, 1984-1985) pp. 170-85; R. Halsband, 'Comments on "Gulliverian Drawings by Richard Wilson"', Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (Winter, 1985-1986), pp. 254-256.
Dimensions of mount: 175 x 244 mm (6 7/8 x 9 5/8 in.)