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I found this small ink and watercolour sketch of a bird nestling amongst the remnants of James Gillray’s private papers in the British Library. According to the annotation at the top of the page it is “the first bird he did draw and paint” and as such it probably constitutes the earliest surviving work by the great caricaturist. Although the drawing is not dated, one assumes it was produced by Gillray during childhood and retained as a some sort of personal momento.

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