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Caricature & Satire, English Aristocracy, Evening, Antique Print, Boydell, London, 1776


J.S. Miller (artist and engraver) (c. 1715-1789/94)

J. Boydell, London: July 1766
Hand-colored engraving
13.5 x 17.25 inches, image
16.5 x 19 inches, overall

Satirical caricature print by John Miller lampooning the follies, frivolities, and foibles of the aristocracy or upper classes. A group of well-dressed men, women and children have gathered in a wooded area. Most are watching a gentleman dressed in black who has been hoisted on a rope swing strung from a tree and is being given a wilder ride than he seems to have anticipated, legs splayed, losing his hat and looking anxiously to where an older woman is tugging on the jacket of the man pulling the ropes to get his attention. The rope puller also ignores a small black servant boy holding out the other end of the rope. Meanwhile, a pretty blonde woman in the lower left corner converses with a woman holding a lute, apparently unaware that the young man to her right is exchanging flirtatious glances with an older man holding a rose. That interaction has not, however, escaped the notice of a woman standing behind her, who nudges her companion and points them out. Meanwhile a couple has slipped into the woods away from the group, with only their heads visible through the foliage. Miller might have intended this print to be a lampoon of slightly earlier French genre paintings of aristocracy in the woods, such as various well-known pictures of  beautiful young women on tree swings by Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743).

Product description continues below.


John Miller, also known as Johann Sebastian Mueller, was a German-born draftsman and engraver, who emigrated to England with his brother Tobias in 1744 as an architectural engraver. He studied in his native Nuremberg under J.C. Weigel and M. Tyroff. He illustrated many botanical works and engraved many plates for John Boydell including genre subjects and prints after old master paintings by Van Dyke, Murillo, Rubens and others, some in mezzotint. He also painted landscapes He signed his name J.S. Muller or J.S. Miller, and in Boydell’s catalogue it appears both ways. He sometimes used the pseudonym “L’Esperance,” but when he exhibited his drawings he always was listed as John Miller. He exhibited them with the Society of Artists between 1762 and 1780 and at the Royal Academy in the 1780s.

John Boydell (1719-1804) was a printseller and engraver. Boydell is credited with encouraging the development of engraving in England. He is well- known for his engravings of scenes from Shakespeare. In 1773, his nephew Josiah Boydell (1752-1817) became his business partner and later his successor, trading as J. & J. Boydell.

Full publication information: J.S. Miller Inv. & Sculpsit 1766. Published by J. Boydell Engraver in Cheapside, London, July, 1766.

Condition:  Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling.


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Deane, Ethel, ed. “Boydell and His Engravers.” The Collector, Containing Articles and Illustrations, Reprinted from The Queen Newspaper, of Interest to the Great Body of Collectors, on China, Engravings, Etc, Volume 3. London: Horace Cox, 1907. Online at Google Books: (23 October 2018)

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Additional information


19th Century