On July 14, 1791, in Birmingham, England, anger at supporters of the French Revolution sent a mob into a four-day frenzy often referred to as the Priestley Riots, so named for the most prominent target of local anger: Joseph Priestley. British political caricaturist James Gillray, who opposed the Revolution, published this cartoon, A Birmingham toast, as given on the 14th of July, less than a week after the riots ended, mocking Priestley in the etching. Priestley is seen presiding over the toast with a full goblet, offering an empty communion plate and calling for a head—implied to be the king’s—among well-known Liberals and grim Dissenters holding court in a harsh parody of the iconic Last Supper.
Photograph by Will Brown. The Institute Collections.