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The distant war for American independence (1775–1782) had an immense and divisive effect on London opinion, which was often very sympathetic to the American cause. There were, of course, many satirical prints, both for and against the Americans.

The war also occasionally had an indirect presence in paintings of contemporary life. The prints displayed by the ballad seller in Walton’s painting include a portrait of General Sir William Howe, commander-in-chief of the British forces in America. He had complained about government interference in the war and had resigned his commission.

September 2004