Georgian Satirical Print Greek Independence Prince Leopold


Artist: William Heath (1794-1840), published by Thomas Mclean (1788-1875)
Title: A Comfortable Thing to be King of Greece.
Medium: Engraving on Paper (Hand Coloured)
Inscriptions: ‘Pub. March 6 1830 by T Mclean 26 Haymarket”

The print depicts an uneasy Prince Leopold as the newly crowned ‘King of Greece.’ He is surrounded by his loyal subjects, including two fierce looking men, with daggers behind their backs. An orthodox bishop, possibly the patriarch of Constantinople stands on his right; another brigand smoking from a long pipe and brandishing a dagger stands on his left.

Such characters, to whom he would have owed his kingship, the partisans that fought for independence and the clergy that inspired them, are a world away from the refined order of the Vienna of his birth. Quite wisely, Leopold declined the offer and became the King of Belgium instead.

William Heath’s affiliation to the publisher Thomas McLean began on the 1st January 1830. McLean, who had just released a monthly magazine of caricatures, advertised them as having been 'drawn and etched' by 'William Heath' for whom he acted as 'sole Publisher'. Though this would suggest that Heath’s name was the selling point, it is bizarre that he left the magazine after just seven issues. A contemporary collector suggests that Heath’s ‘'careless habits—drink, debts and unpunctuality' (which lead to his death at 46) were to blame. Dr John Brown (1810-1882), in a passage that might have served as his epitaph, describes him as: 'poor Heath, the ex-Captain of Dragoons, facile and profuse, unscrupulous and clever'

Size (Frame): 40 x 28 x 3cm (15¾ x 11 x 1¼”)
Size (Print): 35.5 x 24cm (14 x 9½”)
Weight: 1757g