The Princess's Bow alias the Bow Begum

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The Princess's Bow alias the Bow Begum
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James Sayer

The Princess's Bow alias the Bow Begum

London, May 1st. 1788


230 x 290 mm

Neat marginal repairs, just affecting image.


An elderly Indian princess, seated on a stool in profile to the left, her hands deprecatingly extended, receives the obeisance of Burke, Fox, and Sheridan. She says, "dear Gentlemen this is too much now you really distress me exceedingly" ('exceedingly' has been struck out). Burke kneels at her feet, head bent down, supporting himself on his left hand; his right hand is on his breast; he frowns, his spectacles are on his forehead. He is between Sheridan and Fox. Fox stands full-face, holding his hat to his breast; his bow is less low. On the right seven bag-wigs are in positions corresponding to those that they would take if on the heads of persons making low bows to the Begum. Below them are three swords whose hilts are decorated with large ribbon bows or favours, also as if worn by invisible persons doing homage to the Begum. Sheridan wears a similar sword. Both wigs and swords are inscribed 'et cætera.' Under the Begum's seat appear the head and arms of Francis as if emerging from the ground; he fixes Burke and the others with a conspiratorial stare, his finger across his lips, saying, "I am at the Bottom of it." Behind and above the Begum's head is a picture of a row of conical mountains ; a mouse issues from a hole in the nearest mountain. The frame is inscribed 'Parturiunt Montes nascetur ridiculus mus'. Beneath the title is engraved 'Bow wow wow, fal lal &c &ca' BM 7309