Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Irish Pilot or Steering by Chance (1812)

"An Irish Pilot, or Steering by Chance". London, 1812. Royal Museums Greenwich.
The British Navy was made up of a number of nationalities, including Welsh, Irish, and Scottish, as well as seamen from Scandinavia and America. The diversity of the lower deck provided ample fodder for caricaturists, as in my previous post about Welshmen, and this engraving entitled "Makeing a Compass at Sea or the Use of a Scotch Louse".

This English engraving from 1812 features a captain with a spyglass says, "Now en't you a pretty fellow for a Pilot? to see Land and not know where we are!", to which the pilot replies, "Och my dear Jewel! only shew me the Old head of Kinsale, and I'll tell you where to an Inch!"
The sailor on the left wears black tie shoes and white stockings, with blue striped trousers, the lacing of which can be seen at his back. He wears a short-cut blue jacket on his torso, and the sleeves of his blue and white checked shirt bell out beyond the ends of his cuffs. His brown hair is short and curly.
The Irish pilot is not a member of the ship's crew, but dresses similarly. He wears black tie shoes and white stockings, and his blue trousers are long and wide. His white waistcoat is worn unbuttoned at the top and bottom and his black handkerchief is tied tightly around his neck, the ends streaming out in the breeze. His brown jacket is worn open. On his head he wears an orange tube cap with a white brim, and from under it peeps a mass of curly brown hair.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jack hove down - With a Grog Blossom Fever, (c 1805)

Jack Hove Down - With a Grog Blossom Fever. Thomas Tegg, London, c. 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.

Today's image is a very expressive caricature of a sailor who's had too much to drink, arguing with the physician tending to him. This image is from one of Thomas Tegg's early 19th c. series of caricatures.
'hold---I must stop your Grog Jack---it excites those impulses, and concussions of the Thorax, which a company Ternutation by which means You are in a sort of a kind of a Situation---that Your head must be-Shaved- I shall take from you only 20 oz of Blood-then swallow this Draught and Box of Pills, and I shall administer to You a Clyster.

'Stop my Grog-Belay there Doctor---Shiver my timbers but your lingo bothers me-You May batter my Hull as long as you like, but I'll be d--'nd if You ever board me with your Clyster pipe.
Jack lies in his hammock under a patterned green blanket in a blue and white striped shirt, a bottle of grog in one hand. On his head he wears a simple brown tube cap, gathered at the top, from which peeks out wavy brown hair. His blue jacket lies on the deck, with a partially-unbuttoned mariner's cuff visible - two buttons buttoned, two unbuttoned. His shirt is worn with narrow cuffs closed with sleeve buttons, and his broad collar spreads over a red handkerchief tied below his breastbone.

In Jack's sea chest are a number of labeled items, including one named "pig tail"! [edited to add: as a kind reader pointed out, it's a type of tobacco!]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Use of a Gentleman or Patronage for the Admiralty (1810)

The Use of a Gentleman or Patronage for the Admiralty. Published by Thomas Tegg, London. Undated; c. 1810. The British Museum.

The undiscerning nature of the press gang appeared frequently in 18th century caricatures like The Liberty of the Subject (1779), but in this 19th century update the artist mocks the results of the press laying their hands on members of the social elite.
 The Use of a Gentleman or Patronage for the Admiralty. Royal Museums Greenwich copy.

The scene shows two gentlemen in fashionable civilian clothes pleading their case to an officer. Their exaggerated clothes and posture are contrasted with the round and solid plainness of the sailors, and their useless refinements in contrast to the blunt, practical effectiveness of the clubs and shackles of the press gang.

One fresh recruits pleads his case, that he is indeed a gentleman who is well known in Bond Street. The officer hopes that the man will be able to teach his crew some manners: "Yes, yes! I see you are every inch a Gentleman, and just the person we want, my men have pressed a d---'d numer [sic] of Blackguards, and we want a Gentleman on board to teach them good manners!"  


This image shows a few items new to this blog, including men wearing cutlasses with balrdics! The sailor with his back to the viewer wears black pumps, blue (or white) trousers with hems that drag on the ground. Although he carries a solid stick in his right hand he also wears a cutlass on a baldric, with a black scabbard with a yellow chape and locket. His jacket is blue, with buttons painted yellow in the British Museum copy. Shoulder-length brown hair peeps out from under a black round hat.

His mate on the far right left wears white (or light blue, or white being shown in shadow) trousers, a blue jacket, and a yellow handkerchief with red spots. Brown curly hair peeping out from under a black round hat completes the look.

The central two sailors offer much to look at. The man on the left wears black buckled shoes, dark blue (or light blue, or white being shown in shadow) trousers, again with wide legs and cuffs that drag on the ground. a blue jacket (with small yellow buttons in the British Museum copy), and a black hat with a tightly-curled brim, with straight brown hair peeping out from under it. In the British Museum's copy his waistcoat is indistinguishable from his jacket and his handkerchief is black, while in the Royal Museums Greenwich print his waistcoat and handkerchief are white.

The sailor at the center of the print is colored almost the same in both versions. He stands with his legs wide, wearing small buckled shoes, white stockings, and broadfall trousers with very wide legs and cuffs that drag extremely on the ground. He wears a red waistcoat, white shirt, and black handkerchief. His blue jacket has gold buttons in the British Museum copy - the only difference. He also wears a cutlass on a baldric, though he carries a stout cudgel under one arm. Brown curly shoulder length hair peeps out from a round hat with tightly-curled sides and a piece of string tied around the hatband.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Book Deal! - April Fools!

Napoleonic Tars: 1790-1820 is pleased to announce its first book deal! Color along with such figures as Jack Tar, Lord Nelson, Boney, and Poll of Portsmouth, and learn how the artistic choices of early 19th century painters and print colorists shape modern perceptions of sailor clothing!
This is only an April Fools joke at the moment, but National Coloring Book Day is August 2nd - a PDF coloring book released with permission of the Walpole Library is in the distinct realm of possibility.

The image is "The Sailor's Will and His Power", 1808.

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.