The story of Britain through its art. In the 18th century, the triumph of commerce led to the emergence of a new 'middle' class, who craved pleasure and novelty.
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At the start of the 18th century, Britain was becoming
the richest, most powerful nation in the world.
Prosperity led to the creation of the Bank of England,
a storehouse of the nation's wealth.
I feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.
Shelf after shelf of delicious chocolate
all wrapped up in gold foil ready for sale.
But of course, this isn't actually chocolate -
you'd break your teeth if you tried eating this.
These are solid gold bars -
90 billion pounds' worth of the stuff.
But this is what I've come to see.
These are the real treasures of the Bank of England.
They're the very, very earliest banknotes.
And this is dated 18th May 1700, and it's a work of art in itself.
It's absolutely beautifully printed,
using very dark ink - because black was difficult to achieve,
and it helped stop forgery -
on carefully handmade paper.
And at the top, a little seal of Britannia. Not of the monarch.
It wasn't until the 1960s that the Queen's head appears.
Banknotes like this radically changed the way life was led in Britain.
Commerce grew, we became richer, our culture changed
and, in the end, it was all reflected in our art.
In the 18th century, Britain became, for the first time,
a place we might recognise today.
A new class of people was emerging,
somewhere between the lord and the labourer.
It was commerce and prosperity that created them -
people with a bit of money to spare and an appetite for novelty and pleasure.
It was the beginning of what we now call the middle class,
though back then they were simply known as people of the middling sort.
We see their faces in hundreds of paintings done at the time,
and one of the best collections is here at Kenwood House.
The paintings on these walls are no longer just kings and queens and aristocrats.
There are people here whose title is Mr or Mrs -
ordinary people who've risen to become people of influence,
the power brokers of their age.
Actors and politicians.
Inventors, courtesans, even artists.
Take this portrait, for instance.
John Joseph Merlin, a portrait by Gainsborough.
Merlin was a rather eccentric man.
He was an inventor. He invented roller skates.
He invented the clock.
But he was no gentleman,
and yet Gainsborough gives him all the airs of an aristocrat...
his hand in his rather elegant coat,
and in his left hand, another of his little inventions.
This is a device for checking
that a gold sovereign was of the correct weight,
that was the key to power in this new age.
There's something very refreshing about these paintings.
They're quite unlike what had gone before.
There's a sort of innocent pleasure in dressing up in fine clothes.
Innocent pleasure, if a bit sentimental,
in children playing with their dogs or in the countryside.
And these are the paintings, remember, commissioned by this new class of people,
people who weren't ashamed of their wealth,
but wanted to be seen to enjoy it.
Commerce and trade changed the face of Britain.
A network of canals threaded their way through the countryside,
to speed the movement of goods and raw materials.
And entrepreneurs seized the opportunities this offered.
In the mid-18th century,
Stoke-on-Trent was at the heart of the Potteries,
great industry, of which very little remains, just the occasional kiln.
But back then,
it was dirty and dangerous work producing pots.
The potters used to suffer from terrible diseases,
partly the lead in the glaze
which gave them lung disease called "potter's rot".
And the pots they made were fairly crude, using the local dark clay.
And then a man, a local man, decided to change all that.
His name was Josiah Wedgwood.
Wedgwood, the 12th child of a poor family,
was apprenticed into the Potteries.
But his genius for design and scientific invention
soon marked him out as more than a mere potter.
Wedgwood pushed the boundaries of his art, experimenting with materials,
opening up a new market with his distinctive blue and white designs,
known as jasper ware.
Wedgwood was a restless perfectionist,
wanting to produce impeccable work, like these jasper teapots.
He'd search for clay in Devon, in Cornwall, in America,
anywhere in the world, to try and find the finest possible material,
so that he could produce works that were as neat, as clear as this.
He was obsessed with getting the colours exactly right
and he experimented all the time.
These are some of his experiments...
These are little pieces of clay mixed with different minerals,
each one numbered
and each one with instructions of where they should go in the kiln,
or the so-called "biscuit oven".
MBO - middle of the biscuit oven.
TBO - top of the biscuit oven.
TTBO - tiptop of the biscuit oven.
What a labour!
All these experiments led to this - Wedgwood's great masterpiece.
This is the Portland Vase.
And it's a copy of a Roman vase
that was brought to England in the 1780s,
exhibited at the British Museum and caused a huge stir.
People were so astonished by its beauty.
They went to look at it, queued up to see it.
And Wedgwood, always one with a sharp eye,
decided he'd make a copy of it.
And this is the copy.
If you were rich enough,
you could have the actual copy of the Roman vase in your house.
But it wasn't easy to do,
because the original Roman one was made of glass that had been blown.
He had to use his own clay to make it,
and so he started experimenting,
and it took him over three years to get it right.
Look, here's one that went wrong, with these bubbles on.
Here's another one where the figures have started falling off, crumbling.
And here's one that's almost perfect that he kept for himself.
This is actually Josiah Wedgwood's OWN Portland Vase.
In the end, he got it right and started producing these,
and they're still produced even to this day.
If I talk to you, will you lose your concentration?
-No, you're all right.
-Oh, you're all right?
-How many have you made?
-Over a hundred.
How many went wrong in the process of making a hundred?
Oh, quite a few!
-How do you know? Is this right so far?
-This one's all right so far.
Can it still go wrong at this stage?
-It can still go wrong, yes.
-What could happen?
-It could still collapse.
-You're looking a bit anxious.
I only once made a pot, and it started all right
and then it went r-u-u-m, r-u-u-m and bussht!
Right, I think that's it.
-Nice to meet you, anyway.
Thank you so much.
The mass-marketing of luxury goods meant it was no longer just aristocrats
who could buy fine things.
Palatial homes for rich merchants sprang up across Britain
and their houses needed furnishings to match.
One innovator with an eye for the main chance
was the furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale.
Chippendale published catalogues of his work
to enable consumers to choose exactly which ornate designs
would look right in their homes.
His Gentleman And Cabinet-Maker's Director of 1754
was the IKEA catalogue of its day.
Nostell Priory is a treasure trove of Chippendale.
They have well over a hundred major pieces of furniture.
74 chairs alone.
Like this one - rather theatrical,
not a particularly practical sort of chair to sit on.
But it's not just chairs they've got.
This is a fine gentleman's dressing table.
A mirror, a basin here would've had the water in.
Various pots for ointments, glass bottles.
A set of six cut-throat razors, one for each day of the week.
They didn't, apparently, shave on a Sunday.
But the razors are numbered one to six.
for cleaning your tongue.
And in here, a different kind of Chippendale, flamboyant Chippendale.
This is Chippendale building furniture in the Chinese style
which was all the rage at the time.
This beautiful, complex mirror.
And over here, a clothes press,
green lacquer with this gold.
People sitting around the table here.
A child with a dog barking at him down there.
And if you open it,
this pale green turns into this most beautiful, luscious emerald green
where it hasn't been faded,
the whole thing transporting you to the Far East.
This is one of the finest rooms in Nostell,
but it's a bit different from all the others.
It's actually part of the Nostell doll's house.
Look at that.
It was made not for the children of the house
but for the lady of the house
to display the grandeur of her house to her friends, and her wealth,
and it's so finely made that some people say
that the actual bits of furniture were made by Chippendale himself.
The detail is exquisite.
These little silver plates, the fireplaces,
this grand marble fireplace here.
It's so beautifully made, this, so finely done, all this furniture.
It makes me feel like a giant looking in on Nostell itself.
Along with the fine objects that filled their homes,
Britain's new elite was keen to embrace culture and learning as well.
One man, above all, showed them the way.
Dr Samuel Johnson, the son of a struggling bookseller,
rose to become one of the most esteemed personalities of the age.
In the house where he grew up is a copy of his greatest work.
In 1755, Johnson's great masterpiece was published.
It wasn't poetry, it wasn't a novel,
it wasn't biography, it wasn't a play, though he wrote all of those.
It was this two-volume Dr Johnson's Dictionary Of The English Language.
This was a labour of love for Johnson, though at times, of course,
he despaired that he'd ever finish it.
Every single word written by him, with just a handful of assistants helping.
Over 42,000 entries.
This became the book that everybody who professed to be intelligent had to have.
And when you browse through it, you can see exactly why.
It's full of the most marvellous definition,
but followed by magical description of how the word has been used in the past.
"A heavy, lazy fellow", and he quotes from Shakespeare's Henry IV.
"This sanguine coward, this bedpresser, this horse back-breaker,
"this huge hill of flesh."
He was great on insults.
Our insults, sadly, are rather limited and often start with the F-word.
If you look at Johnson's F-words,
we get fat-witted, flagitious, a flasher.
Not what you think - "a man of more appearance of wit than reality".
A fopdoodle is an insignificant wretch.
Or how about calling somebody a fustilarian?
"A low fellow, a stinkard, a scoundrel",
and he says, interestingly, "a word used by Shakespeare only".
"Away, you scullion, you rampallion, you fustilarian,
"I'll tickle your catastrophe."
In 1707, the Act of Union had united England and Scotland
into one single political entity -
Travel and communication became faster and safer,
transforming the fortunes of both countries.
Most Scots strongly objected to the Act of Union.
But it did bring benefits, not least free trade.
Access to England's markets overseas, in the colonies,
particularly America, meant that Scotland became prosperous.
And by the middle of the century
its economy was growing faster than that of England.
And it wasn't just trade. The prosperity also brought a new ferment of ideas,
so that for a time, Scotland was the intellectual powerhouse of Europe.
Nothing reveals this change more than Edinburgh New Town.
It was begun, at vast expense, in the 1760s.
With its wide, light-filled avenues built on a rational grid formation,
it complemented Edinburgh's new-found reputation
as the Athens of the North.
It wasn't the architecture that excited admiration, grand though it was.
It was the great minds who lived here.
A visiting Englishman said he could stand in the middle of town
and in a few minutes, grasp 50 people of genius and learning by the hand.
England might have its artists and its designers.
Scotland had philosophers and scientists,
people who changed the way we thought of the world.
Dr William Hunter was one of the many Scots
who epitomised this new spirit of intellectual inquiry.
He was a leading anatomist and male midwife.
Hunter was also a lover of art
and he brought art and science together
to unlock some of the great mysteries of the age.
This is the culmination of an astonishing life's work.
These are plaster casts of women who've died in childbirth,
either in the hospital or perhaps bought from grave-robbers,
which in the 18th century
was a popular way of making a bit of money on the side.
Hunter wouldn't care particularly
as long as he could get bodies of dead women
and study what went on inside the womb.
And here you can clearly see what's gone wrong.
The child has got its umbilical cord round its neck,
which would be dangerous were it to be born,
but it's also in the breach position.
It's going to be born bottom first, head upwards.
And then next to it, this beautiful...
it's like a sculpture, this child,
lying curled up with its arms furled and its feet tucked in.
But Hunter wanted to go further than that.
He wanted to show every detail with ruthless precision and accuracy,
and to do that, he needed an artist.
And very fine the drawings that artist produced are,
in red chalk, pictures of exactly the same stages of childbirth
that were in the plaster casts.
These very fine lines, creases on the womb.
This was the first time that people had been able to see into the womb
and watch how the child developed and watch why children died
and mothers died in childbirth.
It was an astonishing achievement of William Hunter's.
If Scotland was the new intellectual hub of the nation,
London was the business capital.
Here, money ruled.
Fortunes were made and broken overnight.
The Italian artist Canaletto, best known for his paintings of Venice,
was fascinated by London.
He captured its grandeur in his own inimitable style,
embellishing it a bit in the process.
But there was a seamier side to the city.
One London-born painter determined to reveal it was William Hogarth.
Though Hogarth rose to the top of his profession,
he never forgot the poverty of his youth.
Tucked away in this tiny, but packed museum
is Hogarth's greatest masterpiece.
This is The Rake's Progress by Hogarth,
the story of the decline and fall
of a rich young man who comes to the City.
It's a morality tale about the evils of 18th-century life,
of the effects of too much money,
of drunkenness, of whoring,
of gambling. But, being Hogarth,
he doesn't bludgeon the audience with his message.
He does it all with terrific mischief and a sense of humour.
The story starts
with Tom Rakewell inheriting from his father,
and there's Tom
in the middle of the room being measured for a new suit
to go to London - something he can now afford. And around,
all the signs of his father's miserliness.
A chest full of silver.
There's a lawyer doing the accounts to show Tom his new wealth,
and of course the wealth goes to his head.
He abandons the girl who he's promised to marry - Sarah, the maid -
who's standing there in the corner holding the wedding ring, rather forlorn,
while an older woman points to the maid's stomach, to Sarah,
to show that she's actually pregnant.
Does Tom care? No.
Tom goes off to London and, in a moment, is surrounded by all the temptations.
There he is getting dressed in front of all the people
who dance attendance on him.
Silver toque on his head where his wig will go. On the left, the music teacher
wanting to teach him to play Handel.
The dancing master on tiptoe with his violin.
Down here, there's a jockey
with a great silver cup and a whip showing him the winnings he could have.
And a man comes approaching him
with a note of recommendation from another employer.
So, there he is, surrounded by everything that the great city has to offer.
All the tricks of the trade for which, of course, he will fall, and fall he does.
In picture number three, this is the Rose Tavern -
a famous St James' brothel. And there's Tom, drunk.
Clearly he's drunk. He's got a glass of wine and there's wine all around.
his sword hanging limply by his side,
a sort of symbol that with drunkenness his virility has gone.
And the girls all have black spots to cover syphilitic sores.
It's a scene of debauchery
and chaos - the chaos into which Tom's life
has already descended. And the consequences follow soon.
He gets arrested.
He's on his way to St James's Palace
to go to court. He's dressed in all his finery,
but his wig comes askew
as a man comes up to dun him for his debts.
And who should appear to try and rescue him?
Sarah, the girl that he betrayed.
She's offering him a little bag of money to pay his debts.
So what happens then?
In despair, Tom decides to get married.
He takes the obvious course
of looking for a rich widow in need of a husband.
And choosing a really rich woman, he can't afford to be too picky
about what she looks like -
one-eyed and squat and dumpy.
And his eyes are actually looking past her
to the buxom young servant girl who's dressing her for the marriage.
But there's another bit of morality tale here because...
being denied entrance to the church to complain about the marriage
is Sarah once again.
This time, Sarah carrying her little baby in her arms.
Now, what effect does the marriage have?
Does Tom sober up?
He's got the money, he can now lead a respectable life,
and no doubt he could still have the odd maid from time to time. Uh-uh.
He goes off gambling.
And this is the final downfall of Tom.
Here he is at the gaming tables.
He's just lost a large sum of money.
In fact, everybody here seems to have lost money.
And here in the centre, Tom with a kind of manic look in his eyes,
shaking his fist and cursing his misfortune
that all his money is gone.
His wig's fallen off.
On the floor, the chair's fallen over.
And finally, he does get dunned for his debt.
He's thrown into the debtors' prison.
And here he is in the Fleet, looking distraught.
On his left sits the wife,
whose money he's spent, scolding him.
One person again comes to rescue him.
And it's Sarah, who comes and sees him
in the debtor prison
and faints away
and has to be given smelling salts to revive her.
And at the bottom, tugging at her mother's dress,
is the child that she and Tom had.
The child obviously looking
anxious, distressed, angry at what's happened to her mother.
And it gets worse.
He ends up in Bedlam -
the lunatic asylum,
the place that ladies of fashion came to visit simply to gawp
at this ghastly dance of the mad.
This huge figure is Tom, chained up for his own safety,
gone mad and, once again,
Sarah in this final scene, weeping over Tom
and over what might have been
and over the destruction of his life.
It's an extraordinary story, and Hogarth tells it in a way
that makes us feel a kind of sympathy for Tom.
But, at the same time,
with a humour but also with a passion.
It's perhaps because Hogarth himself understood,
knew what the 18th century was like.
If you were up, you were up.
If you were rich, you were fine.
If you fell into poverty, your life could be hell.
For Hogarth, it wasn't enough just to depict the miseries of the poor.
He wanted to do his bit to alleviate their suffering.
In the 18th century, the children of the poorest families were very vulnerable.
Three out of four died before they were six years old.
Thousands more were abandoned by mothers either too young or too poor
or perhaps ashamed of having a child outside marriage.
And each day, young infants, wrapped up, were found in doorways,
outside churches, left abandoned by their mothers.
Children literally thrown away like rubbish.
Hogarth was so horrified
by such sights that he gave his services as patron and governor
to help the wealthy merchant Thomas Coram
create London's first sanctuary for abandoned children.
The Foundling Hospital opened its doors in 1741.
From the moment the hospital opened, there was a huge demand
from mothers wanting to leave their children here.
So much so that in the early days, they devised a ballot system
to decide which children to take. It must've been very gruesome.
The mothers came with their children
and dipped their hands in a bag and took out a coloured ball.
White ball - relief - it meant your child would be taken into the hospital,
subject to a medical test.
Red ball - on tenterhooks - it was put on a waiting list.
Black ball - disaster - the child was turned away.
Pure chance. Just a lottery.
Then, when they were left here,
the mothers wanted to leave something of themselves with the child,
and so these tokens...
..were often given to the hospital,
partly to identify the child,
partly that the child might feel some connection with the mother.
This, for instance.
A little circle of crystal.
Almost looks as if it's been taken off a chandelier,
because it's not anything you could wear.
Or this...rather more humble.
This is thought to be a gambling token.
A little ivory fish.
This is a very beautiful, heart-shaped mother-of-pearl,
with the initials EL.
And this one, which is a giveaway, isn't it?
This was a token left by a mother
and it just says "ale".
It would've hung around a beer jug.
They're absolutely fascinating,
but the really moving thing about them is
they were never given to the children.
The mothers left them, the hospital locked them up, carefully indexed,
but never let the children have them
because they didn't want the children to know where they came from,
except if the mother came back to claim the child,
which did occasionally happen but very, very rarely.
Only one in 100 mothers returned here looking for their children.
There was more to this place than just looking after abandoned children.
The Foundling Hospital was a fashionable charity.
People in the upper reaches of London society supported it,
the artistic elite supported it.
Handel came here and, for free, conducted the Messiah
on nine different occasions as a fundraiser.
Hogarth persuaded painters - Gainsborough, Reynolds and others -
to paint their pictures and hang them here for free.
And when people who were involved in the charity
came here to look at the children, to leave a donation,
they also came here to look at the pictures on the walls.
This was the first public art gallery in Britain.
The exhibitions at the Foundling Hospital
gave artists the idea of displaying their work
to a new, wider public with an appetite for culture.
In 1768, the leading artists of the day, with royal approval,
set up an academy for the promotion of British art.
We take academies and art galleries for granted now -
after all, they're two a penny in London.
But when the Royal Academy was founded in 1768,
it transformed the fortunes of British artists.
It gave them the recognition they craved and deserved.
And it also allowed them to make a bit of money in the process.
The lifeblood of the Academy was the annual Summer Show.
The policy was stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap.
It was a hugely popular event,
attracting up to 80,000 visitors a year. A place to see and be seen.
But the Royal Academy wasn't just about shifting stock.
It also took on students.
Pupils here were subjected to the strict teachings of Joshua Reynolds,
the first President of the Academy.
Reynolds provided them with the rigorous classical training that they lacked.
He taught a whole new generation of British artists how to draw.
He believed that anyone could become a good artist
if only they would follow the rules -
the rules of course were his rules -
as set out in his series of lectures, or discourses,
which he gave to his fellow academicians
and to students.
What he encouraged them to do
was to aim high,
to pursue art with the same style and energy
as the great masters of the Renaissance.
And that way success lay.
The Royal Academy made the decision, bold for the time,
to accept women artists,
although at the start, very few applied.
This painting shows the founding members of the Royal Academy
at a life class.
You'll notice they're all men.
It was thought improper for women to draw naked models.
The two female members have been relegated to a side wall -
Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffmann.
Angelica Kauffmann doesn't seem to have suffered all that much
from not being allowed to draw in the life class,
as these four magnificent roundels in the ceiling show.
They are the allegorical depiction of the elements of art.
Now, this one is Design,
and it shows a woman artist
drawing a naked torso, but not of a living person,
but a plaster cast.
And it stresses the elements of proportion -
the shape of the human body and how to get that down on paper.
And then, over here,
Composition...again a woman artist,
this time contemplating a chess set...
..and with a pair of compasses in her hand,
stressing the element
of mathematics and organisation of art.
This one is Colour,
and it shows the artist
stealing pigment from the rainbow and using it on her palette.
And then over here, the final one, Invention.
This is a sort of ethereal figure of the artist
with wings on her head, her hand resting on the globe, contemplating.
The battle to survive in the open market led ambitious artists
to exploit new, eye-catching ways of drawing attention to themselves.
In 1781, the artist and melodramatic theatrical designer
Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg hit on a brilliant idea.
He called it the Eidophusikon,
and it was to give people the kind of excitement
that years later they'd get from the cinema.
It was to put on a melodramatic show
that they'd sit and watch in amazement,
and this is how it works.
De Loutherbourg's great skill was to recreate the dramatic side of nature -
the most wonderful seascapes
and moonshine and sunsets,
storms at sea and volcanic eruptions.
And to do it, he used a series of screens
that came up and down
accompanied by music and dramatic lighting.
WAVES CRASHING AND THUNDERCLAPS
The idea behind it was to appeal to people who lived in the cities
but wanted to reconnect with nature in the raw.
So they'd sit here in a kind of mixture of amazement and terror.
One regular visitor to de Loutherbourg's shows
was the great painter Thomas Gainsborough.
He too was inspired to add a touch of showmanship to his art.
This curious contraption is known as Gainsborough's Show Box.
Gainsborough was always fascinated by the effect of light on landscape
and on the sky and the sea, and this was a device so he could experiment
with different kinds of light.
And he used it for himself to work with,
but also just for entertainment, to show his friends.
The principle's very simple.
There's a glass plate in the front here which he had painted.
There - one of eight that the box can take.
Just like a stage set.
..there are five candles -
these are the candleholders - which shone through a cotton screen
to diffuse the light before it hit the glass plate.
Shut the box to seal the light off
and come round here, look through...
..and you see this painting lit from behind,
the most extraordinary effect -
a golden sun on trees and a cottage in a little valley.
And you could experiment, even at this stage, by pulling
the magnifying glass out, coming back a bit...
you get a slightly different aspect of the landscape.
It's magical, this one.
'Artists were also quick to exploit improvements in technology
When did you start learning this business, Ray?
I was 15.
-About 30 years ago.
Does that pass the test?
Not bad. We could work with that.
'For the first time,
'high-quality reproductions could be produced in bulk
'and sold at affordable prices to a mass audience.
'A successful print could make an artist a small fortune.'
Let's have a look.
Well, for your first one that's pretty good.
Well, that, that's all quite good, isn't it?
-That's come out well.
Yes. Nice and bright.
Beautiful detail on these bottles here. Look at this. And that.
I love all this ornate working around the outside as well.
What's special about it from your point of view as a printer?
As a printer, I mean, the quality of work, I mean, it's just...
The depth and the lights, they're just fantastic.
It's just a wonderful, wonderful art in itself.
The ever-expanding print market led to the creation of a new type of art -
one that appealed to the British sense of humour...
..the political caricature.
Britain was famed across the world for its press freedoms.
We were the envy of countries that lived under more authoritarian regimes
because, in London, political chicanery
and social snobbery were mercilessly ridiculed.
Every day, a new cartoon would be published
to satisfy the appetite to pillory those in power.
And people who couldn't afford to buy the cartoons
would come to shops like this and simply stand outside and have a good laugh
and mock those in power.
The greatest caricaturist of all was James Gillray.
For Gillray, nothing was sacred.
He satirised the Royal Family,
the Prime Minister.
He exposed the greed of bankers...
he mocked fashion...
..and even laughed at everyday diseases, like gout!
He was particularly susceptible to toilet humour.
But as the 1790s dawned, one affair,
a dramatic upheaval, attracted his particular attention.
The biggest event at the end of the 18th century,
which affected Gillray and everybody,
was the cataclysm of the French Revolution,
this attempt to overturn a whole society and renew it.
And people were riveted by it,
some in favour, some - from the beginning - very much against.
Gillray started rather in favour,
like a lot of people were, of what was happening in France,
but quite quickly turned against it.
But this cartoon shows a kind of mixed emotion.
Here is Pitt, the Prime Minister, hanging from a lamppost
and the Queen, with her breasts showing naked, hanging beside him,
it has to be said, in a slightly suggestive position.
What a wonderful cartoon of the Queen that is.
And then, here is the King, George III,
who's about to be decapitated.
And he's being held with his bottom up in the air here
and...Gillray had such a low opinion of the King that he has him saying,
"What, what, what? What's the matter now?"
Completely unaware of what's going on.
It's a sort of comic take on the Revolution
and how it would look seen from the British political scene.
But as the news from France got more and more grim -
stories of the violence, the bloodshed,
the daily murder of aristocrats,
everybody killing everybody in the end, the Reign of Terror -
Gillray changed his tune.
He looked on it then as something of real horror.
It has the revolutionaries
sitting round after their day's work at the guillotine,
eating the bodies of the people they've decapitated.
This man here with the revolutionary cap
eating the eye from the head of a body
that's been executed that day.
And the women beside eating the heart,
Somebody's sitting bare-bottomed
on top of a naked woman eating the arm.
And over here, an old crone is basting the body of a young child
by the fire, pouring oil over it,
turning it to get it just neatly roasted, ready for the table.
And then the children of course are being given the leftovers,
and what are they eating?
They're eating the intestines of the decapitated aristocrats.
An absolutely horrific portrait.
And it was a sign of a real terror, exaggerated of course,
that Gillray felt would reign if the French Revolution came to Britain,
as many people began to fear that it would
The Revolution and the ensuing wars between Britain and France
lasted 22 years.
For Britain, the cost was crippling,
bringing an end to the exuberance of the Age of Money.
But the war also provided the backdrop
for the emergence of a new type of hero,
a figure whose fame encapsulated the changes
in British society that had defined the century.
On 8th January 1806, a Royal funeral barge bearing a coffin
left the Queen's Steps at Greenwich.
The gilded barge was draped in black velvet.
The canopy over the coffin bore black ostrich feathers.
A flotilla of boats followed it as it rowed upstream
and every minute they fired a salute.
This sombre procession was watched from the banks
by crowds of weeping mourners.
But this Royal barge wasn't carrying a king.
It was carrying a commoner, a man who'd risen through the ranks
to become the greatest naval commander in our history -
Admiral Lord Nelson.
Nelson was the son of a humble Norfolk parson.
Through a sparkling naval career fighting the French,
he became the toast of the nation.
His death at the Battle of Trafalgar
inspired numerous paintings and mass reproductions
which brought Nelson's image into every patriot's home.
This is where, at the end of the first state funeral ever given to a commoner,
Nelson was buried, here in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral,
right under the huge central dome.
given to Horatio Viscount Nelson.
On the marble floor all around, symbols of the sea, the anchor there,
and the words of the famous message
he sent on the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar to the fleet...
"England expects every man to do his duty."
And what a tomb this is.
This beautifully carved black marble was made by an Italian sculptor,
not for Nelson, but it was going to be used by Henry VIII.
He didn't, and it was left for 300 years at Windsor.
It was rediscovered and, at the time of Nelson's death, it was decided
that this was a suitable tomb for the great Admiral Nelson himself.
And look at the top of it.
There, where there might have been Henry's crown,
is a viscount's coronet, Nelson's coronet.
This man, the son of a humble Norfolk parson, who'd risen so high.
This man who really typifies that very middling class
that came into their own in the 18th century,
a commoner buried here in St Paul's like a king.
In the next age...
the excitement of exploration...
..building a new world...
the allure of India...
..Imperial domination -
it's Britain in the Age of Empire.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
In the 18th century, the triumph of commerce led to the emergence of a new 'middle' class, a group of people who craved pleasure and novelty, and developed its own tastes in art. The result was a golden age in painting, with Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough reinventing the British style.
The story ends in 1805 with the burial of Horatio Nelson, a commoner, at the heart of St Paul's: the supremacy of the middle class assured.