Thursday, December 29, 2016

Calm, 1812 (JMW Turner)

JMW Turner; Calm
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
I don't mean to turn this into the JMW Turner Draws Men On Boats Blog or a study of fishermen's clothing - though the notions have a certain appeal - but once again a great print from Turner's "Liber Studiorum" pulled me back. In it fishermen drift on a glassy sea, their spread sails hanging limply. The aquatint/mezzotint process and warm ink gives the scene considerable depth, with the boats in the background shown in lighter tones, while the fishermen appear almost black.
Detail from JMW Turner's "Calm"
©Tate Photographic Rights ©Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
I haven't seen any knit caps in the artwork I've been studying so far (largely caricatures from 1797-1807, so a fairly limited slice of nautical art, to be fair), so the cap in "Marine Dabblers" and today's print have stuck out. The waterman's long queue is striking as well.

The unusual clothing and the contents of the rest of the Liber Studiorum make me suspect that this might be a painting of continental fishermen and thus perhaps not appropriate to include with the rest of my English-speaking sailor content, so I'm not tagging it in with everything else and am including using it as an end-of-the-month "outside the usual subject matter" posts.

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A True British Tar, 1795

"A True British Tar" Royal Museums Greenwich.
Today's image, drawn by James Gillray, and published by Hannah Humphrey, both of London, has an interesting story behind it. While at first glance it might appear to show a common British tar, the exaggerated features of the sailor's face and a reference in the lines below the portrait makes this a clear satire of Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, a professional naval officer with Nelson as well as his friend, and the future William IV.

The print shows him as a ‘tar’ in stereotypical sailor clothing: a misshapen black hat, blue jacket, and striped trousers, with a printed neckerchief. The text reads
Damn all Bond-Street-Sailors I say, a parcel of smell-smocks!
They'd sooner creep into a Jordan than face the French!- dam me!' 
"Jordan" was slang for a chamber-pot, but here refers to Dorothea Jordan, the Prince’s actress-mistress and mother of his illegitimate children, the FitzClarences. The pun gave rise to far cruder satires than this print. (1)

Gillray's reference to the lewd behavior of the "Bond-Street Sailors" is thus a veiled "criticism of the Duke's own decadent life style. Any real scorn is so deeply embedded in visual and verbal innuendo that Gillray would have nothing to fear by turning his attention to the high-ranking royal." (2)
"A True British Tar" Royal Museums Greenwich.
In both images the prince wears a blue (or purple) coat with small yellow buttons and mariner's cuffs with one button worn open, a double-breasted white waistcoat with small yellow buttons, and striped trousers with yellow buttons - red in one image, blue in another. A truly massive yellow and red handkerchief that looks more like a woman's fichu with a fringed edge visible is tied tightly around his neck, completely covering his collar and shoulders. His straight blond hair hangs limply around his face, and a strange smushed black hat sits on top of his head.

1. Description note from A True British Tar (caricature) - National Maritime Museum. Accessed 23 Dec. 2016.
2. Davey, James, and Richard Johns. Broadsides: Caricature and the Navy 1756-1815. Seaforth Publishing, in Association with the National Maritime museum, 2012. P. 19.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Sailor sitting for his Picture, c. 1800-1810

"A Sailor sitting for his Picture" Royal Museums Greenwich.
Suspiciously reminiscent of the 1807 print "A Sailor Sitting for His Miniature", today's caricature also features a sailor being painted by an artist. Today's print is undated and no date is given with the various institutions that hold a copy, but given the strong resemblance to the 1807 print, Jack's general style of dress, and other conventions for showing Jack in caricature at the time, the first decade of the 19th century seems likely, as I haven't been able to track down further information on the years this publisher was active.

This print is from the publisher M. Creary in Dublin and Jack is dressed in much the same style as the London print. Both sailors even have the same long side-whiskers and large spot on their faces, and are seated in much the same attitude. When combined with almost the exact same dialogue ("Carlisle Bridge" from today's print is replaced with "London Bridge" in the 1807 Woodward & Roberts print) the print becomes part of the larger narrative of publishers and artists using and reusing images in different cities in an era before strong copyright protection.

Jack wears pointed-toe brown pumps with large white buckles, striped red trousers, and a gold fob with pink ribbon at his waist. His double-breasted blue jacket is worn open with the cuffs unbuttoned, and the buttons are a grey color that looks like it might be meant to represent pewter. Under the jacket a massive yellow and orange plaid (?) handkerchief is tied loosely around his neck, and an oversized round hat with a blue hatband and huge blue rosette sits over a full head of curly brown hair. A brass tobacco case (absent in the London print) tucked into a welted jacket pocket goes nicely with the white clay pipe that he puffs at.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The veteran's address to a young sailor, 1803

"The Veteran's Address to a Young Sailor". London: 1803. Walpole Library.

Today's image is a London print from the team of Woodward and Ackerman. It offers an excellent compare and contrast between the clothes of a senior sailor who did his service in the 18th century, and a young sailor just starting out a life at sea. The veteran says:
"You are now, Young Man, entering on a scene of life the most glorious and enterprising - that of an English Sailor... An imperious and daring Invader threatens to approach your shores." The sailor is commanded to remember Drake, Howard, Blake, and Pocock, Russel, Boscawen, "Duncan, brave Cornwallis, Howe, Warren, Hood, the famed St. Vincent, and the undaunted Hero of the Nile!... Farewell! be vigilant, be bold - true to your God, your Country, and your King!"

The veteran on the left is dressed firmly in the style of the preceding century, with white hair (or a wig?) with a long white queue wrapped in a black ribbon and a long blue coat with white turn-backs. He wears white small clothes, which include a waistcoat that stretches over his prosperous belly, reaching to his thighs, knee breeches, and stockings. His shirt is ruffled, with a black stock, and his shoes are substantial, with large buckles.

In contrast, our young sailor wears all that is fashionable for a young sailor of the early 1800s: delicate pointed-toe pumps, red and white striped ankle-length broadfall trousers that are tight at the ankle, a triple-breasted blue jacket with small buttons and welted pockets cut high, and a large black neck-cloth worn tied loosely around his neck. He has a large round hat with a round crown and a black rosette in the band in one hand, and a thin stick tucked under his arm. His brown hair is curly, and very short.

While sailors had been wearing striped trousers for a long time by the time this print was made, the contrast between the veteran's conservative, traditional naval uniform and the fashionable cut of the youth's clothes in this print make an excellent contrast.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The sailor's will and his power, 1808

"The Sailor's Will and his Power", 1808. Lewis Walpole Library.
Today I'm looking at another illustrated broadside by Laurie & Whittle. This copy's catalog entry in the Walpole notes that the paper has an 1814 watermark, and if so would mean that editions of the engraving continued to be printed six years after the initial run - an interesting detail.

Jack stands on the deck of a ship, bidding farewell to a crying woman as a bosun with a stick under his arm blows a call behind him. Behind her back the woman has a piece of paper labeled "Will & Power", which is explained in the final verse of the song:
Now, as along the beach she stray'd,
Quite forgot was poor Johnny,
Eagerly, instantly, off she sped,
Clean into the arms of her Tommy.
Close in her arms did she him embrace,
She call'd him her joy and her honey,
How the hell cou'd you think, that I lov'd that there man,
'Twas only to finger his money.
Jack wears tie shoes, light-colored stockings, and long trousers that are tight at the ankle. His jacket has small buttons and is worn open, revealing a light colored waistcoat and a long neck-cloth hanging outside his waistcoat, with the knot around his breastbone and the ends reaching down to his navel. His shirt collar is buttoned. On his head he has a round hat with a narrow brim and slightly-sloped crown, pushed jauntily back to reveal short, curly hair.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The sailor's prayer, 1801

The Sailor's Prayer. 1801. Lewis Walpole Library.
Leaving the strange shoals of fishermen, today we return to the safe waters of caricatures with this irreverent Woodward and Rowlandson print from 1801, which features a sailor, as always speaking in impenetrable nautical jargon:

"O mighty Neptune! hear an  honest British Tar--thou knowest I trouble not thy Godship every day, I therefore pray thee to grant my Prayer, for I love not long palavering and that there, d'ye see.

Grant me a stout ship, and honest Messmates--as the last of my old ones was popped off the Belerophon's bows at the Nile--poor Mat Mizen!! Give me plenty of Grog, and a good commander, and I'll warrant you I'll shave the Don's wiskers, and as to MOUNSEER, if I comes athwart his hauser again, I'll shiver his Jib, and dowse his three-coloured rag, and revenge the death of Mat Mizen, d--n me--I beg your honour's pardon for swearing, but its a way I have--however, I still say, if I get into Mounseer's wake, I'll back his top sails, split my Timbers.

Worthy Master Neptune! send us a good prize, I beseech thee, and be not sparing in brandy and tobacco--give us also a few chests of the Don's dollars, for Mounseer hasn't got none, no more than there is in your three-pronged boat-hook. When we arrive in port, send us handsome Doxies, and keep us from the lee-shore, that thou knowest I hat as I do an empty can, or a dry quid. Grant me but these, and capsize my Trunions if I don't ever praise thee, and the Messmate that wont join me, may he be stuck upon the lee-yard arm of a storm night! Lastly, I pray thee to keep me from the disgrace of the Bilboes-save me from a Guinea-man and a Tender, and I'll serve cheerfully, and sing King George and his Navy for ever.--Huzza! to the end of the chapter."

The sailor, seated on a chest on the deck of a ship, is smoking a white clay pipe, with an oval tobacco case and a tankard easily within reach. He wears pointed-toe shoes with gold buckles, white stockings, red and white striped pants, a blue jacket with three buttons at the cuffs, at least two of which are worn unbuttoned, and a black neck-handkerchief tied tightly around his neck with the ends hanging outside his jacket. His dark hair is short and curly.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Marine Dabblers, 1808 and 1811

Today we return to the marine art of JMW Turner in the collection of the Tate with scene from the first decade of the 19th century, done first as a watercolor in 1808 and later issued as a engraving in 1811. In the foreground young boys play in the surf next to a boat run up on the shore, contrasted to the adult fishermen in the background. To quote the Tate's catalog entry, "The anxiety of the child at the loss of a toy in the shallows foreshadows the dangers of setting out in real boats, to which the men shown in the background are accustomed".

I've avoided featuring images of watermen or coastal fishermen because there are sartorial differences between them and bluewater sailors, but the lure of Turner was once again too much for me: not only does the Tate have Turner's original watercolor, but both the preliminary outline etching and the final published version of this print survive, with the final, published print engraved by a different artist.

Together these three images show subtle differences in the interpretation of the sailor's clothing in the scene, and a useful lesson on the over-reliance on an artist's brush-strokes or etching-lines when studying clothing.
JMW Turner; Marine Dabblers
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
This is Turner's original watercolor, completed in 1808. The sketch was done in Indian Red pigment as a series of washes, with some washing-out used for the figures. The four boys play in the surf at the foreground, and off to the right are the two adults that grabbed my interest.
Detail from JMW Turner's "Marine Dabblers"
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
It's a little difficult to tell what the men are wearing because of the nature of the washes; the figure on the left standing in the surf half-turned to the viewer appears to be wearing a striped knit cap, a light-colored shirt with full sleeves, petticoat breeches, and a bulk leg covering that look like trousers. The figure on the right, with his back pushed up against the boat, wears a cap, white shirt, light-colored waistcoat, and slops over some sort of leg covering.
JMW Turner; Marine Dabblers
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
Next I turn to Turner's preliminary etching, which offers more clarity in the sharp lines of an etched plate but less detail in terms of shading and some of the garments, but the leg-coverings of the men now look like gaiters worn over breeches.
Detail from JMW Turner's "Marine Dabblers"
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
Finally I turn to the published engraving, which was engraved by another artist, William Say. This bears much more similarity to the original watercolor due to its shading, but even more detail in the sailor's clothes.
JMW Turner; Marine Dabblers
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.

Detail from JMW Turner's "Marine Dabblers"
© Tate Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported),
The original can be viewed at the Tate by clicking here.
Both knit caps look striped, and the sailor on the left's petticoat breeches look horizontally striped. The detail of the gaiters over the breeches is largely lost.

Although this post is perhaps not extremely interesting from the perspective of the costume historian, I nonetheless enjoyed seeing Turner's artistic process, especially when the process gives me insight into studying sailor's clothing in art.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Greenwich Pensioner, 1790 (British Tars)

Today's post is courtesy of my brother blog, British Tars: 1740-1790, and was originally covered in this post.
"The Greenwich Pensioner," Charles Dibdin, 1790, Walpole Library.
Greenwich Hospital provided a safety net for the sailors who kept Britain safe and flourishing. Deductions from the pay of merchant and naval sailors helped to provide for their care when they were disabled, as is this man. Dibdin created this piece (which was published by Carrington Bowles) to commemorate those sailors who gave everything for the nation, and to celebrate the way the nation cared for them.
 Our pensioner claims to have sailed on the Rover, a ship that I am fairly certain was invented for this song, as a quick search hasn't turned anything up on an eighteenth century ship rigged naval vessel by that name prior to 1790.
 Jack doesn't wear his slop clothes anymore, but a suit of clothes that hint at his former profession.
A nice cocked hat bound in tape is cocked very far to one side, or perhaps worn backward. The balding pensioner's wile waist is still worn rather short, and he is clearly balding. About his neck is a checked neckerchief, tucked into a single breasted waistcoat. The sleeves of his coat (for it is too long to be called a jacket) end with mariner's cuffs which are also bound in tape.
As you would expect of any good sailor (retired or not), our pensioner carries a stick under his arm and a pipe between his fingers.
The most interesting detail of the entire piece is his finely carved wooden leg. A sort of scoop is fitted atop it to cradle the back of his stump. From there, a belt wraps around his thigh to hold it in place. It is a well turned piece of dark wood. His good leg is fitted with a plain stocking and pointed toe shoe with large rectangular buckle.