This scene features members of the newly installed ‘ministry of all the talents,’ following the death of prime minister William Pitt (1759-1806). Playwright and statesman Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1775-1816) can be seen reclining at the center, talking with his ally Charles James Fox (1749-1806). Fox had just been named Foreign Secretary and Sheridan treasurer of the navy. Rigidly upright behind Fox is Francis Rawdon-Hastings (1754-1826), known as The Earl of Moira at this time and master-general of the Ordnance.
They are all laying in a bed of roses, as the Fox administration was described in April 1806 by Robert Stewart, known as Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822). Fox replied, “Really it is insulting, to tell me I am on a bed of roses, when I feel myself torn and stung by brambles and nettles, whichever way I turn.”
Graphic Arts GA 2013- in process
Charles Williams wasn’t the only British caricaturist to pick up on the symbolism (Williams made three caricatures on the subject). James Gillray (1756-1815) completed a print the same month, followed by one by Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) in May.