Friday, November 25, 2016

The sailors defence, 1807

"The Sailors Defence". London: 1807. Lewis Walpole Library.
In addition to being bad at riding horses, bad judges of horseflesh, speaking in impenetrable nautical jargon, being mouthy to parsons, and disliking French refinements, another caricature trope about sailors is that they're belligerent and prone to fighting! This stereotype was touched upon in The Indignant Tar (1804), and today we have yet another sailor who has gotten hauled before a magistrate for hitting someone. This caricature is also by Woodward, and from 1807.

A large, solid sailor stands before a magistrate, while a thin man with a handkerchief tied like a bandage over one eye stands in the background. A seated magistrate inquires of Jack:
I really wonder you are not ashamed of yourself. A man of your athletic make to beat a poor fellow - so much interior to you in point of size what have you to say for yourself

And Jack replies:
Please your Magistrates worship and Glory - he run foul of my Larboard side, as I was steering through Wapping-so I hove him a gentle topper & knock'd him down. but I meant no harm for as I hope to see salt water again I had nothing at all in my hand but my fist.

The Walpole Library has two color versions of this print. Jack is stylishly dressed in his shore-going clothing, and the first color version has added lots of great details to his clothing: peeping out between striped trousers of a narrow red stripe over white and pointy-toed shoes with large rectangular white buckles he wears blue and white striped stockings, and two keys and a fob painted yellow hang from a narrow yellow ribbon or chain at his waist.

His blue jacket has finely-painted small yellow buttons, double breasted up the front and unbuttoned halfway, and with four visible on one sleeve, two unbuttoned. His orange waistcoat is also unbuttoned halfway up the front, with his yellow neck handkerchief tied in a bow around his collarbone and the short ends hanging out of the jacket. Under it all a white shirt with an upright collar is visible coming up to his cheeks. His hair is short, brown, and curly.

In his one hand the sailor holds a black round hat with a blue rosette; the inside is visible, showing a drawstring lining. It's colored in a dull brown wash, leaving the impression of a natural linen lining and paper-lined crown. The sailor's other hand, clenched in a fist, is indeed empty of a stick.
In this second color version from the Walpole Library the sailor's clothing is largely the same, but much more crudely painted, showing what a difference a lazier colorist can make in one's impression of sailor's clothing: the red stripes on Jack's trousers are much wider, his jacket is colored in a single blue wash and lacks the details of gold buttons, his waistcoat is white like his shirt, and his neck stock is a watery black like his hat. Still, his stockings are striped in blue and white, his rosette is blue, and the fobs at his waist is colored with a spot of yellow paint while the ribbon is painted in the same purple as the coat of his victim.

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