Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sailors in a Calm, 1807

"Sailors in a Calm". London: Thomas Tegg, 1807. British Museum.
Today's print is another scene published by both the London publisher Thomas Tegg (after George Woodward), and the Dublin publisher M. Cleary, in 1807. The scene depicts a popular subject for making fun of sailors, namely their utter inability to ride horses or judge horseflesh.

In this scene three sailors on a horse with their luggage (which includes a small cask, a glass bottle of something almost certainly in the alcohol line, and a lot of white clay pipes - almost everything needed for a good time) meet a sailor walking along the road with his bundle slung on his stick. The sailors aboard the horse are complaining about how they can't get her to start walking, which the sailor on foot responds to by asking why they decided to ride:
"Her lights are stove in, her knee timbers all shattered, scarse a bit of running tackle to her Bowsprit. & not an inch of rope left to take her in tow. & I'll be damn'd if you don't ship yourselves aboard a tighter vessel. You won't hove in sight of Portsmouth for a Month."
"Sailors in a Calm". Dublin: M. Cleary. C. 1807. Royal Museums Greenwich.
"Sailors in a Calm." Dublin: M. Cleary. C. 1807. V&A Museum.
The three print versions offer a satisfying number of color variations on sailor's clothing, but also have some interesting commonalities: all the sailors have blue hat ribbons and rosettes. Their jackets vary from blue, green, and red, and their trousers from red striped, blue striped, solid blue, and white. Their neck cloths include yellow, red, and black, and their hair is all short and brown, with some sailors sporting straight hair instead of the usual curly.

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