Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Brave Tars of the Victory, and the Remains of the Lamented Nelson (1805)


"The Brave Tars of the Victory, and the Remains of the Lamented Nelson". Rudolph Ackerman. London, England. December 9, 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.

"Broadsides: Caricature and the Navy 1756-1815" notes of this print,
"The fierce loyalty that Nelson inspired among those who served under him was a recurring feature of his posthumous appearance in caricature. In [this print], the result of a fruitful collaboration between George Woodward and Thomas Rowlandson, two tars deal with the death of their hero in a typically bluff and honest manner. The crew of the Victory had insisted on bringing Nelson home themselves, rather than move his body to a faster frigate. Jack, on the right, leans protectively over Nelson's coffin as he reassures his comrade that he will watch over his precious cargo until it arrives safely in England whereupon, he predicts, 'his monument will be erected in the heart of every Briton.' Woodward and Rowlandson's print appeared just days after Nelson's battered flagship finally reached home. 
...By focusing on the no-nonsense actions of Nelson's men, sympathetic caricatures such as [this one] foreground the other icon around which patriotic fervor could coalesce: the ordinary British sailor."
The tar on the left wears black shoes with round white buckles, white stockings, and tan petticoat breeches. His blue jacket is worn open with the top button on his single breasted jacket buttoned back, showing a white waistcoat over a protruding belly. His full-sleeved white shirt is visible under his open cuffs. Around his neck he wears a black handkerchief with the knot tied under his chin. He clutches a red and yellow striped handkerchief in one hand, and holds a black round hat with a large blue rosette in the other. His brown hair is short and curly, white sideburns reaching down to his earlobes.

The tar guarding Nelson (in a nice trunk) on the right is wearing black shoes with round white buckles, white stockings, and blue trousers. His blue jacket is also worn open, with a full sleeved white shirt peeking out of his open cuffs. His neck cloth looks to be striped in two different colors of purple. His brown hair is short and curly, and the round hat sitting on top of the trunk has a blue ribbon with "Victory" around it and a sprig of green stuck in it, making me wonder if the lettered hat band is not representative of a standard practice, but something special done in memory of Nelson, like the tars in this print from 1806.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jack Tars conversing with Boney on the Blockade of Old England, 1806

"Jack Tars conversing with Boney on the Blockade of Old England". London, 1806. British Museum.

Today's image deals with the mutual blockades imposed by Great Britain and Napoleon. After Napoleon gave up his plans to invade England in 1806, he prohibited trade across the channel between his continental empire and Britain, hoping to ruin their economy. The British response was to blockade the entire French-controlled continent, and capture all ships leaving French ports as contraband. The resulting blockade by land and sea is satirized here by artist Charles Williams.

While Bonaparte cries from shore that his blockade is effective, the two British tars in their boat, supplied with grog and pipe-tobacco, think otherwise. "Why, what do you mean by that you whipper snapper - here's Toms pipes and I in this little cock boat, will Blockade you so that you dare not bring out a single Vessel;- Blockade indeed! you are a pretty fellow to talk of Blokading!"

Breaking the fourth wall, the personified John Bull cries from afar on a hill, "I cannot help laughing at the whimsical conceit".  
The two sailors are painted in diverse ways: the standing sailor wears a rusty brown-red double breasted jacket cut at hip length. The jacket is worn buttoned, with the buttons painted over so they appear cloth-covered. His black handkerchief is worn outside his jacket and hanging down to his navel, with a big knot around his breastbone. He wears red and white striped trousers.

The seated sailor wears a hip-length blue jacket, a black handkerchief, and striped grey or blue pants. He clamps a white clay pipe in his mouth.

Both sailors wear amorphous black hats with blue rosettes and blue hat ribbons, upon which is written "NELSON". This is the second instance of lettered hatbands that I've noted in this blog,  the first being the 1798 print "Jack Tar settling Buonaparte", and British Tars: 1740-1790 shared an instance of political hatbands in a political cartoon caricature from 1788. It is worth nothing that all three of these instances are political, and not the names of ships.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

John Bull Peeping into Brest, 1803

Today's etching is a caricature that I confess I'm selecting mostly because the oversized head and exaggerated features reminds me a lot of Hayao Miyazaki's artistic style, and it's a generally kinda weird image.
"John Bull Peeping into Brest". George Woodward. London, 1803. National Maritime Museum.

Our Brobdingnagian John Bull looks down on the French fleet blockaded into Brest, complete with a teeny tiny Napoleon, who cries "mercy on us what a monster - he'll swallow all my ships at a mouth-ful. I hope he dont see me. John Bull himself states, "Upon my word - a very Pretty light Breakfast."

One advantage of John Bull being drawn as a giant is that the image is quite clear about what he's wearing, and the large scale made it easier for a colorist to add details. His striped red trousers alternate between a broad red band and a narrow red stripe. His blue jacket has mariner's cuffs worn unbuttoned with three yellow buttons on the cuff. His blue jacket is worn shut, with five yellow buttons visible. His handkerchief is purple with a pattern of five small yellow spots arranged in an x, a common "spott'd" design created by resist dyeing that was popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. A similar spott'd handkerchief is worn by a rower in John Singleton Copley's famous 1778 painting Watson and the Shark, and reproductions are available from the retailer Burnley and Trowbridge.

John Bull's brown hair looks almost wiglike, but is worn short and seems somewhat curly. His hat is of the "squashy" type shown in caricatures, with a relatively wide brim, a low crown with a rounded top, and a wide blue hat ribbon with a large blue rosette, facing backwards.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

John Bull offering Little Boney Fair Play (1804)

John Bull offering Little Boney Fair Play. Published by H. Humphreys, London, 1804. British Museum.

Today's image is a political caricature featuring a jolly tar with the visage of Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence - I featured another caricature of a sailor with the prince's visage in December in the 1795 engraving "A True British Tar". In today's engraving the sailor stands boldly in water representing the English channel, hands on his hips, while behind a wall a spindly Napoleon cries "I'm a com'ing", The bare-chested sailor cries "You're a'coming? You be d_n'd!"

Drawn up on shore in front of Boney's fortress are the fleet of small boats, representing Napoleon's threat of invading Great Britain.

The bulky sailor in the print wears striped petticoat trousers with a fall-front closure. The large handkerchief tied under his chin is red and yellow, and his round black hat, set at a jaunty angle with an odd upturned brim, has a "squashy" crown with a huge blue rosette.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Death of Admiral Lord Nelson (1805 caricature)


"The Death of Admiral Lord Nelson". James Gillray. London: 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.

Today we return to caricatures with James Gillray's 1805 satire "The Death of Lord Nelson". The image shows the wounded Nelson on the deck of HMS Victory, with a winged figure in the background blowing a trumpet that spurts fire like a cannon and signaling immortality.

Nelson is supported by Lord Hardy, whom Gillray has drawn to resemble King George III, and by a grief-stricken personification of Brittania, who is recognizable in caricature as Emma Hamilton.

"Broadsides: Caricatures and the Navy 1756-1815" gives the following commentary on the print:
The hubbub around the dying figure may be exaggerated to the point of absurdity, but the sense of personal and national grief conveyed by Gillray's print is no less authentic. The real  target of the artist's satire, it seems, is not Nelson (who finds redemption in death), but in the unbridled and, at times, unseemly race to institutionalize the loss of national hero. An inscription beneath the image informs the viewer that the allegory is, in fact, a proposal for an official memorial for the City of London, intended "to commemorate the Glorious Death of the immortal Nelson." In the event, Gillray's overstated tribute proved prescient, as many such proposals came to light n the wake of Nelson's death and funeral.
 In the background of the print are a number of common British tars, who are of course the focus of interest of this blog.
Two loyal sailors gaze upon their fallen Admiral. The one kneeling wears black shoes with buckles painted yellow, horizontally blue and white striped stockings, light brown breeches tied at the knee, white petticoat trousers, a blue and white shirt vertically-striped in the body, a red and yellow patterned handkerchief worn very loose so that it rests over the jacket, and a blue jacket worn open with buttons also painted blue. The sailor is bare-headed and clean-shaven, and his brown hair is short and straight.

The standing sailor holds his black round hat in his hand, revealing its white lining. His brown hair is short and straight. He is not wearing a jacket, revealing a striped blue and white shirt and loosely-tied red and yellow patterned handkerchief tied over his light brown waistcoat, which is worn unbuttoned almost to his navel.  

In the background several more tars work a gun. One hauling on a tackle of the gun appears to have vertically-striped (or it could be the hatching of the engraver; it's hard to tell) blue and white stockings and petticoat trousers. The two on the right wear blue jackets and black round hats, while the man firing the gun wears petticoat trousers and a blue jacket. His head might be bare, or wearing a cap - it's hard to tell from so little information.
A final indistinct tar in the rigging wears what might be white breeches or petticoat trousers and stockings, with a blue jacket and black round hat.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Watermen, 1807

I've speculated about potential differences between the clothing of coastal watermen, river bargemen, or fishermen versus the clothing of blue-water sailors before, so today's image is of watermen!

"Watermen", John Augustus Atkinson. London: 1807. British Museum.

Once again drawing from "A Picturesque Representation of the Costumes of Great Britain", this 1807 print depicts two watermen with a boat. One man wrangles with the boat's bow or balances it, while the other, hat off, looks like he's trying to drum up a customer, with a pair of oars leaning against the wall behind him.
The man pushing the boat into the water is dressed much like a sailor - a round hat with curled sides, short hair, a neck-cloth with the back worn outside his shirt, breeches, and tie shoes.

The man offering his boat to passers-by has a round hat, short-cropped hair, a big neck cloth, a waistcoat, breeches, and buckled shoes. His coat is full skirted, with a badge on his left arm showing him to be a London waterman. Turn back mariner's cuffs (worn closed) complete his sleeves.

Outside of the bargeman's badge these two men specifically identified as watermen aren't enormously different in their dress from sailors. However, Atkinson portrays other sailors in his series of engravings in trousers, often with long queued hair, so their breeches and short hair differentiate them in this series at least.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Glory of Old England, 1803


"The Glory of Old England" (subtitled "Briton's Protection"). London, England: 1803. British Museum

Today's image is an interesting detail from a poster that the catalog suggests might be a music cover. The publisher is listed as Laurie & Whittle of London, who produced several broadside ballads of the early 1800s that I've covered in previous posts. Published in August, 1803 after the wake of the end of the Peace of Amiens, the image is a snapshot of the patriotic fervor of the time. It reminds the public of where their protection from the ravages of Bonaparte and his threats to invade England comes from: the might of the Navy (personified not as an officer, but as a common British tar) and the Army.

In the center of the image Brittania sits in a seal inscribed with the caption "My country's supporters". To her left in the sea are ships at sea, and to the right are the tents of an army, while outside the seal, leaning on it, are the sailor and soldier. Supporters is meant in the heraldric sense of figures standing on either side of a shield in a coat of arms, and holding it up.

The Royal Navy sailor at left wears black shoes with square buckles left white. His trousers, tight in the lower leg, showing his calves, and stopping just above the ankle to show white stockings, are a light tan. His blue jacket is worn open with four buttons on his sleeve - worn buttoned shut for once - and looks to be double breasted. His black handkerchief is tied quite loosely around his neck, with his white shirt visible and unbuttoned at the collar. His red waistcoat has four rows of tiny buttons! It's worn almost completely unbuttoned, showing his white shirt beneath.

The sailor's hat is a "squashy" one - though less exaggerated than ones in caricatures - with a small brim and a blue ribbon and rosette. His brown hair is short and straight.