Item: Phryne Before the Chicago Tribunal

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Record Number: 11585
Call number: Bc 612 P 567
Artist: Gillam, Bernhard, 1856-1896
Depicts: Blaine, James Gillespie, 1830-1893, Reid, Whitelaw, 1837-1912, Curtis, George William, 1824-1892, Evarts, William Maxwell, 1818-1901, Schurz, Carl, 1829-1906, Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919, Bristow, Benjamin Helm, 1832-1896, Miller, Warner, 1838-1918, Robertson, William Henry, 1823-1898, Logan, John Alexander, 1826-1886, Sherman, John, 1823-1900, Cameron, J. D. (James Donald), 1833-1918, Cameron, Simon, 1799-1889, Harrison, Benjamin, 1833-1901, Edmunds, George F. (George Franklin), 1828-1919
Lithographer: Mayer, Merkel & Ottmann
Mentioned: Gérôme, Jean Léon, 1824-1904, Phrynē
Publisher: Keppler & Schwarzmann
Repository: Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Date of Original: June 4 1884
Original Format: Clippings, Prints › Lithographs › Chromolithographs
Image description: The Political cartoon parodies Jean Léon Gérôme's famous painting Phryne before the Areopagus. In Gérôme's painting, an ancient greek courtesan named Phryne is put on trial for a capital crime. Hypereides, her lawyer, believes she will be convicted, and disrobes her in front of the tribunal. The court is overwhelmed by her beauty and acquits her of the charges.

Gillam's political cartoon pokes fun at James Blaine, an 1884 Republican presidential candidate, by illustrating him as Gerome's Phryne. Blaine wears shorts and a bib and is covered in tattoos illustrating his corrupt political dealings. Transcribed on the lower right corner of the image is "with apologies to J.L. Gerome". Whitelaw Reid, editor of the New York Tribune, takes the role of Hypereides and unveils Blaine to the stunned ancient Greek tribunal made up of 19th century prominent Republicans including George W. Curtis, William M. Evarts, Carl Schurz, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Helm Bristow, Warner Miller, William Henry Robertson, John Alexander Logan, John Sherman, James Donald Cameron, Benjamin Harrison, and George Edmunds. According to the Library of Congress, the cartoon also depicts Simon Cameron, but the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's editorial staff is unable to identify Cameron in the cartoon.

Gillam, Keppler, and Opper illustrated a number of cartoons featuring the tattooed man. Phryne before the Chicago Tribunal became one of the most well known and controversial political cartoons of the 1884 election.