Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Battle of Trafalgar (1825 Dighton painting)

It's the last post of the month, which means looking at another work of art created outside of the 1790-1820 time period.

Since I'm still on a bit of a Trafalgar kick I'm looking at another painting of the Battle of Trafalgar, this one from 1825. Last month I looked at JMW Turner's return to the events of October 21, 1805 in a painting from 1824, a topic he originally visited in oils in 1806.

Turner also made extensive sketches of Victory and her sailors when he visited Portsmouth in 1805, so while his 1824 painting was criticized by naval men for compressing the events of more than one day into a single scene, he was familiar with the original state of Victory and what her sailors were wearing in 1805.
The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 Oct. 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.
Denis Dighton's 1825 oil painting, on the other hand, feels more like a product of the 1820s. As the Royal Museums Greenwich catalog entry notes, "The artist has mistakenly shown the high solid gunwales and round bow of the 'Victory', modifications made some years after Trafalgar. Their introduction was influenced by the heavy casualties suffered in the battle."
Different, too, are the clothes Dighton's sailors wear. Several of them are painted wearing only Guernsey frocks with nothing underneath. Sailors wearing frocks appear in more contemporary paintings (such as this one from 1815), but they're often portrayed as a garment worn over shirts and neck-cloths.

Several sailors have huge sideburns that verge on muttonchops and long, thick queues, in contrast to more contemporaneous images of the events of October 21, 1805 that are more likely to show sailors with short, curly hair, and nearly clean-shaven.
Detail from JMW Turner's The Battle of Trafalgar... 
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), 
The original can be at the Tate viewed by clicking here.
This painting is an interesting contrast to other paintings about the events of October 21, 1805 done in the years immediately after the battle, which I hope to look at in subsequent posts, particularly the two famous paintings of the Death of Nelson: Benjamin West's 1806 painting and Arthur William Devis's 1807 painting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The sailor's journal, 1805

"The Sailor's Journal". London: 1805. Lewis Walpole Library.
Today's image is from a broadside ballad. Like The Sailor and the Ghost (1805) it is also an engraving from Laurie and Whittle of London. The song is about a Royal Navy officer bidding farewell to his dear Nancy and his eventual return, a scene portrayed above the lyrics to the song. The final half-stanza goes:
At seven up channel how we bore,
While hopes and fears rush'd on my fancy,
At twelve I gaily jump'd on shore,
And to my throbbing heart press'd Nancy.
As the song concerns a naval officer and one is shown in the engraving it's safe to say that sailors in the boat are supposed to be Royal Navy sailors; that said, they don't look much different from other sailor portrayed in engravings. All four sailors wear round black hats. Two of the men in the background are wearing light-colored shirts and don't seem to have on jackets or waistcoats; one has a dark-colored handkerchief tied tightly around his neck.

The sailor in the bow holding a boathook has on light-colored broad trousers, a double-breasted jacket worn open, a double-breasted light-colored waistcoat, a light-colored handkerchief tied in a small knot around his neck, and short hair peeping out from under his hat.

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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Welch Sailor's Mistake or Tars in Conversation, c. 1807

"The Welch Sailor's Mistake or Tars in Conversation." London: 1807. Lewis Walpole Library.
Today's image is another engraving from Woodward's caricature magazine, the Hudibrastic Mirror. This image makes fun of stereotypes of Welshmen, and features five sailors enjoying themselves on the deck of a ship. The dialogue is as follows:
"-And so then do you see David we sprung a leak"
"Cot pless us - and save us - did you! and a ferry coot fetchitable it is. I should have liked to have had a pit with you."
The jug at the English sailor's feet is labeled "Real oronooko" - a type of rum.
Although identified as Welsh, David dresses no differently than the other sailors - in fact he wears his clothes in the same fashion as the sailor on the far right, and is colored the same way: buckled shoes, red and white striped trousers, a double-breasted white waistcoat, blue jacket worn open, black neck-cloth worn with the knot around the collarbone and the ends hanging loose, and a big squashy black round hat with a blue ribbon and rosette.

The other two sailors on the left wear black round hats without ribbons or rosettes, black neck-cloths, and blue jackets. One sailor can be seen as having a white waistcoat, and the other is wearing blue trousers and black shoes with white buckles.

The English sailor telling his story is dressed the same as the sailor on the far right except he has a blue hatband and is smoking a pipe. All the visible cuffs have four or five small buttons, and the sailors all have short, brown curls hair, except for David, who is painted with blond hair (a rare choice for a colorist for a sailor in a caricature), and the sailor on the far right might be wearing a bobwig.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Sailor and the Quack Doctor, c. 1807

The Sailor and the Quack Doctor. London. Lewis Walpole Library.

I return today to the Lewis Walpole Library's collection and Woodward and Cruickshank's caricature magazine, the Hudibrastic Mirror. Published beginning in 1807, the magazine consisted of several volumes published over several years. This print is from an earlier volume and is dated as [1807] by the Walpole library's catalog.

In this image the sailor and a quack doctor are in the doctor's consulting room. The sailor has a bandage over his forehead, eye, and cheek, and carries a paper entitled "List of Cures". Behind the sailor is a cupboard with a skeleton. Jack says, speaking in nautical-laced jargon as is typical for caricatures,
"You must know Doctor I have got a bit of a Confusion on my larboard cheek from a chance shot, and as I dont think it of consequence enough for our Ship's surgeon, I bore down to you, after overhauling a long list of your cures - but I suppose front the messmate in the Cabin there, you dont always make a return of the Killed and Wounded?"
The quack in his physical wig and breeches, replies,
"Sir, my rule of practice is this, there is pen, ink, and paper, - sign a certificate of your cure, and I'll take you in hand immediately on paying down two Guineas!"
 Jack's hat is of the large, oversized "squashy" kind where the crown is wider than the brim. He carries a thick stick under his arm, and over a white shirt his blue jacket is worn closed with a double row of little buttons. On his feet he wears white socks and black buckle shoes, with the strap on his left foot trained through a white buckle. 

In this copy Jack's hair is white, making me suspect that between the color and the shape it might be a wig. His red handkerchief is worn around his neck with the knot under his throat and the ends hanging down to his belly. His trousers are striped in red and white.
Alternate copy. Lewis Walpole Library.
In this copy Jack's wig is brown. His handkerchief is black, and his trousers are blue.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The last jig or Adieu to Old England, 1818

The Last Jig or Adieu to Old England. Rowlandson, London, 1818. British Museum.
 Today's print is a Rowlandson caricature with plenty of great details! It shows one of the popular tropes for sailors in artwork: sailors kicking up bob's-a-dying one last time before their ship departs England. These sailors are on the berthdeck of their ship, with one sailor sitting on the breech of a gun and leaning on a barrel. One sailor plays a fiddle while a couple dances, and in the background more women, a punch bowl, and large jug all add to the merriment.

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".
The fiddler wears blue and white striped trousers, shoes that might be tie shoes, a small black round hat perched at an angle on his head, and a single-breasted blue jacket worn open to show his white shirt with his mariner's cuffs worn closed. To the right of the fiddler in the back of the image on a barrel sits a sailor with a small round hat, a blue jacket with mariner's cuffs worn closed, and white or light blue trousers. The man on the floor to the right of the fiddler is mostly obscured, but we can see his blue jacket. He's also wearing a curious cap that looks decidedly like a thrum cap due to its shape and texture.
The dancing sailor in the center is curiously dressed for the date of this image: he's been drawn in breeches and slops, colored yellow and pink respectively. I had initially wondered if this image was a simple reprint of an earlier print, but the women's clothing and the shape of certainly fits for the 1810s. 1818 was a bit late for sailors to be wearing breeches, so there may be some degree of Rowlandson relying on a visual trope here: breeches and slops read "SAILOR" in 1818 in the same way that a dixie cup and crackerjack uniform reads sailor for us today. The sailor also wears buckled shoes, white stockings, a blue jacket with his cuffs worn open to show a white shirt underneath, and a red handkerchief tied around his neck with the knot at the collarbone. His hair is short and curly, and his round hat is straight-sided and flat-topped with a narrow brim.

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 carefully-painted copy in the collection of Royal Museums Greenwich is remarkably different in its coloration - click on it to see it at the original size and enjoy the colorist's details. The dancing sailor wears horizontally-striped blue stockings, vertically striped blue slops, brown breeches, and a mottled red and orange handkerchief around his neck. What looked like a pocket flap in other versions of the print has been painted yellow, which makes its actual appearance as a tobacco case obvious. One sailor has a red and white striped handkerchief done in delicate brush-strokes, and another in mottled red and pink. All the sailors with shoes have their buckles painted gold, which makes it seem more like the fiddler has tie-shoes - the fiddler also has dark blue socks. Notably, all the sailors' small blue buttons are painted gold. Three of the sailors wear brown trousers and a fourth blue.

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.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The sailor and the ghost, 1805

Today's sailor comes from a broadside ballad published in 1805. It details the story of a sailor who gets two women with child, marries only one, and is at last revenged by his jilted lover's ghost, who followed him to the sea after hanging herself. The moral at the end of the ballad is this:
You that do to love belong
Now you have heard this moumful song
Be true to one lest ill betide
And don't delude poor woman kind

"The Sailor and the Ghost". London, 1805. Lewis Walpole Library.
This is the first time I've covered a broadside ballad, and it's an interesting change from my usual study of caricatures. While this etching is still not treated with the same amount of verisimilitude as a serious subject like a historic painting, the sailor is less exaggerated: in particular his hat is not drawn oversized and "squashy" like sailors in caricatures of the late 1790s-early 1800s are often drawn wearing, but more realistically with a straight-sided, medium crown with a flat top.
Jack has short, curly hair, clearly visible since his round hat has fallen off his head. The black round hat has a white lining and a straight-sided medium crown and a brim of medium size. He wears a dark-colored triple-breasted jacket that ends at his upper thigh, with a white single-breasted waistcoat and shirt underneath. His black neck handkerchief is loosely-knotted around his neck, with the knot falling around his lower breastbone. His white trousers are tight at the ankle and looser in the thigh. On his feet he wears pointed-toe black buckled shoes and white stockings.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The sailor and banker, 1799

The Sailor and Banker, 1799. Lewis Walpole Library.
I'm having some trouble with formatting today, so here the the rest of the information for this caricature. As always click on the link to the Walpole to see the original.
"The sailor and banker, or, The firm in danger"
Woodward del. ; etched by Rowlandson.
London : Pubd. Octr. 28, 1799, by R. Ackermann.
Today's tar is trying to get some money from a banker, who gazes up at him unconvinced. The caption reads:
I say- my tight little Fellow- I've brought you a Tickler!
A Draught for Twenty Pounds, thats all- but dont be down
hearted- you shant stop on my account.- Ill give you two
days to consider of it!
This sailor is dressed pretty well with two watch fobs and a tobacco case - perhaps that's why he needs some money!
Jack wears pointed-toe shoes with big yellow metal buckles and blue stockings, with the strap on his left foot appearing to be trained. His white trousers are loose. Gold watch fobs hang from watch pockets on both sides - an ostentatious sailor style that shows off his wealth. His single-breasted blue jacket has lots of small cloth-covered buttons up the front, and five small cloth-covered buttons on the sleeve worn unbuttoned. A white shirt is glimpsed at his wrist. In the one visible welted jacket pocket he has a yellow metal tobacco case.

His waistcoat is yellow with small yellow buttons, and he wears a red handkerchief loosely tied around his neck with the end draping onto the back. Under his arm he carries a stick, though it is small and thin instead of the sailor's usual cudgel. His brown hair is short and curly, and in one hand he holds a black round hat.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The sailor, 1792

"The Sailor". S.W. Fores, London, 1792. The Lewis Walpole Library.

Today's image is a romantic English mezzotint from 1792. The scene it portrays is from a popular story from the 1780s entitled "The Adventures of a Hackney Coach", reprinted in numerous editions in England and America throughout the end of the 18th century. A sailor (speaking in the caption in nautical jargon) hands a letter to a woman in torn clothes, while the titular hackney coach waits in the background:
Hollo!—pilot! tell that there lass with the short petticoats and tight heels to step aboard, I've got a letter from her brother for her."

"What cheer! what cheer, Nan!— what storm hast thou been in, my lass, thy rigging seems a little tattered and yet thy bottom is tight and clean?"
"The storm of adversity, says the poor girl—"O,—an' that be all, here is what will set thee to rights speedily, my girl;" pulling a dirty letter from his pocket.—She read it, and found it contained an order on her brother's owner for ten pounds.

Our sailor wears pointed-toe shoes with square white-metal buckles and red and white striped trousers that end at the ankle showing white socks. On his upper body a white waistcoat with a few buttons undone at the top combined with a tightly-tied voluminous black handkerchief shows a blue and white checked shirt beneath. His long blue jacket has short tails that reach to his thighs, with seven large yellow metal buttons up the front. A large gold fob hangs from a wide green ribbon at his waist, and he carries a stick in one hand. 

His hat reminds me of one from The Flowing Can (1791), as it is bound around the brim and the base of the crown with what looks like yellow tape. His long brown hair flows down to his shoulders.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Wreck of the Centaur, 1784 and 1796

Today's post is in collaboration with British Tars: 1740-1790, and takes a closer look at the painting "Portraits Painted from Life, Representing Capt Englefield with Eleven of his Crew, 1784". The background for this painting is explained in this post at British Tars; in summary, it concerns the loss of the British ship Centaur in a massive hurricane in 1782.

The original painting was done in 1784, but is currently lost. Almost all of the original prints date to 1796, with the only exception being a sketch of the original gallery space in which it hung.
West Wall, The Great Room, Somerset House,
the main space of the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1784,
Edward Francis Burney, 1784, British Museum.
Since the surviving prints date from the 1790s I'll be taking a look at the print and the clothing the sailors are wearing, with the added caution that the prints are based on a painting done in the 1780s, so using the prints as a resource for sailor's clothing in the 1790s is a questionable endeavor. But that's one of the most exciting things about using artistic resources for studying costume: peeling away the layers of intervening interpretation to better understand the artist's intention and what's being portrayed.

Here's a detail of a sketch of the original painting, as it hung in an exhibition hall in 1784. Click to enlarge:

Below is a print made of the now-lost painting in 1784. The engraving notes that "the size of the picture is 12 feet by 8 feet 5 inches" - quite sizable.
Portraits of the Officers and Men who were preserv'd from the
Wreck of the Centaur
Etching. T. Gaugain, London, 1784.
British Museum
Finally, here is a colored aquatint from 1796, which shows little variation from either the 1784 sketch or the 1784 engraving:
Portraits of the Officers and Men who were preserv'd from
the Wreck of the Centaur
Hand-colored aquatint. T. Philips, London, 1796.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
As the 1796 print has few substantial variations in the common sailors' clothing from the earlier prints, it is unlikely that the sailor's clothing was updated to reflect any changes in the perception of the engraver of sailor's clothing.

The sailors' clothing looks quite similar to the styles from the early 1790s that I am more familiar with: short hair, baggy white trousers, and shirts with narrow-banded cuffs. The standing sailor wears his blue jacket with a shirt underneath and no waistcoat, while another man wears a white shirt with no waistcoat, letting us see his finely-pleated shoulders. A blue neck-cloth flutters at the neck of a man in the background of the 1796 aquatint. In both editions the sailor mounted on the bow of the boat has a red jacket with a broad turned-down collar and large blue neck-cloth loosely tied around his neck.