James Gillray was a famously prolific artist who produced well over a thousand engraved satires in his lifetime. In later years, when his mental and physical health were visibly deteriorating, George Cruikshank would regard the speed and ferocity with which Gillray worked with something approaching a sense of horror: “Sometimes he would at once etch a subject on the prepared copper plate… unable even to submit to the process of drawing it upon paper… he worked furiously, without stopping to remove the burr thrown up by the [engraving tool]; consequently his fingers often bled from being cut by it”. When not actively engaged in the business of making caricatures, Gillray would draw and paint constantly, his body becoming so accustomed to the habit even when he was at rest, his hand would “pulsate electrically… moving as if in the act of painting”. To observers like the young Cruikshank, it must have seemed as…

Source: James Gillray’s missing leg | The Printshop Window

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