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Portrait, James Christie, Auctioneer, Antique Print, London, 1782


Eloquence, or, The King of Epithets
[Portrait of Auctioneer James Christie]
Hannah Humphrey, London: January 1, 1782
Etching, uncolored
10.75 x 6.25 inches, sight size
15.25 x 11 inches, framed

A caricature portrait of James Christie, founder of Christie’s auction house, standing in his auctioneer’s rostrum and delivering his sales pitch. He smiles, head turned in profile, both hands held out, one holding a gavel. Other copies of this print are in the collections of the Yale University Library and the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The word “Eloquence” in the title is engraved at the bottom of the rostrum, and beneath the subtitle is a long caption with Christie’s auctioneering patter, “Let me entreat — Ladies — Gentlemen — permit me to put this inestimable piece of elegance under your protection, — only observe; – – – The inexhaustible Munificence of your superlitively [sic] candid Generosity must HARMONIZE with the refulgent Brilliancy of this little Jewel. ! — ! — . )”

Product description continues below.


James Christie (1730-1803) was the founder of Christie’s International in London, an auction house which flourishes today with venues around the world. Christie befriended the prominent artists and craftspeople of his day, including Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Chippendale, and the auction house became a gathering place for collectors, dealers and fashionable society. Christie was entrusted with auctioning the contents of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ studio and the estate of Sir Robert Walpole, and sold Madame du Barry’s jewels. After he died in 1803, his son, also named James Christie, took over the firm.

Hannah Humphrey (c. 1745-1830) was a publisher and printseller based in London. She was the younger sister of the printseller William Humphrey and possibly learned the trade from him. Unusually independent for her time, she opened her own print shop in London. She never married, but had a close relationship with the political cartoonist James Gillray, publishing most of his prints and housing him in an apartment above her shop from 1791 on. She was among the most successful printsellers in the city, in part because Gillray’s work was tremendously popular.

Full publication information: Pub’d Jan’y 1st, 1782 by H. Humphrey No. 18 New Bond Street.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Not examined out of frame.


“Christie’s International PLC.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2017. (7 November 2017).

“Eloquence, or, The King of epithets.” Yale University Library. (7 November 2017).

“James Christie.” National Portrait Gallery. 2017. (7 November 2017).

McGuirk, Caitlin. “Women’s History Month: Hannah Humphrey, fl. 1745-1818.” Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, Ohio State University Libraries. 20 March 2012. (27 June 2015).