|The Last Jig or Adieu to Old England. Rowlandson, London, 1818. British Museum.|
There are no fewer than seven sailors in this print. They all wear blue jackets with buttons colored the same blue as the coat, and white shirts. Most of them are wearing round hats, with the dancing sailor in the center showing a good example of the straight-sided flat-topped narrow-brimmed style, while the other sailors' hats lean more towards the caricaturist's stereotype of being drawn as misshapen and "squashy".
A sailor in the background to the right of the dancer is obscured except for his blue jacket. Sitting on a barrel to the right of him is a sailor with a large punch bowl, wearing black shoes, white trousers, a blue jacket worn closed, a white handkerchief around his neck, and a round hat worn canted on his head. The last tar on the right is dressed exactly the same, though he's smoking a pipe and might be wearing a wig.
Other copies of this print offer different colorists' visions of the scene - or perhaps merely what was available in their watercolor boxes. This print from the Royal Collection Trust shows some differences: three of the sailors have brown coats, the neck-cloths are two black and one yellow, the dancing sailor's breeches and slops are brown, the fiddler's trousers are blue instead of white and blue striped, and the man seated on the gun carriage has brown pants instead of white. Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library's copy shows the same coloring scheme. There is a copy of this print in the collection of The Walpole Library, but the plug-in to view it is currently not working for me.
|The Last Jig or Adieu to Old England, Royal Museums Greenwich copy.|
This print is an interesting case in how a caricaturist's literal broad brush can paint sailor's clothing in a different light than what might have been the reality: It's easy to leave white trousers the same white as the paper, which might make colored trousers underrepresented, and solid-colored handkerchiefs are easier to paint so they could be over-represented. Similarly, buttons are easy to paint over so they appear cloth covered, which means that one must be careful about making inferences about whether or not sailors wore brass buttons on their coats.