Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Napoleon Bonaparte on 'Bellerophon' in Plymouth Sound, 1815 and 1816

Between July 15 and August 4, 1815, HMS Bellerophon was home to the defeated Napoleon Bonapart in the immediate aftermath of his surrender, as Britain decided what to do with him. The occasion was the cause of numerous works of art, including an oil painting by Charles Lock Eastlake that shows Napoleon in a full-length portrait, and another painting of the crowds who swarmed Plymouth Sound in late July and early August for a glimpse of the defeated emperor.
Napoleon Bonaparte on Board the 'Bellerophon' in Plymouth Sound
Oil on canvas. Charles Lock Eastlake, 1815. Royal Museums Greenwich.

After Bellerophon arrived in Plymouth Sound, Napoleon usually appeared in the afternoon around 6 pm so that the numerous boats filled with sightseers could catch a glimpse of him. It was on one of these occasions that Eastlake was able to make a few rapid sketches from life to create the portrait.
Scene in Plymouth Sound in August 1815
Oil on canvas. John James Chalon, 1816. Royal Museums Greenwich.

The painting includes several other figures: behind Napoleon to the right is Général Comte Bertrand, and to the left is Captain Piontowski. The group is completed by a British marine in profile to the right of Napoleon, and a sailor below looking up at him.

As Royal Museums Greenwich notes,
The painting was enormously popular when it was exhibited at No.236 Piccadilly in 1815, and although based on the eyewitness account of Eastlake when a young man, the end result is heavily contrived. Several certificates were issued to testify to the true resemblance of the painting to Napoleon from which Charles Turner created a well-known mezzotint from another version of the painting. The exhibition and the print both made Eastlake's name and earned him a considerable sum.
Charles Turner's 1816 mezzotint omits the other men in Eastlake's painting in favor of focusing on Napoleon, but Eastlake's detailed reproduction of a sailor in the lower left corner is particularly interesting to this blog.
The sailor wears a thin striped blue and white guernsey frock over a white shirt, the cuffs and collar of which are visible at his neck and wrists. Around his neck he also wears a black handkerchief. He wears white trousers or breeches, which lace up in the back and have a pocket that closes with a wooden button.
Another interesting detail in this painting is the hammock stowed in the upper right corner, which shows some details of construction and tricing, and a sailor's watch number stenciled on it in brown.

Chalon's 1816 painting also includes a few interesting sailors, though the details are hard to see in the reproduction quality I was able to find online.

One sailor in a striped blue and white guernsey frock stands on the bow of a ship, a red handkerchief loosely tied around his neck at the sternum and the ends hanging out. He also wears blue trousers. I couldn't quite make it out, but it looked to me like he is wearing some kind of cap.
Note: This detail is taken from Wikimedia commons, not RMG.
Two men rowing a boat wear striped shirts and white-backed vests. One wears a striped red and white cap, and the other wears a black round hat.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Study of a sailor, c. 1800

Portrait study of a sailor, Robert Williams, 1797-1812.
British Museum.

This fantastic portrait study of a sailor is a great way to compare the stereotypical sailor of a caricature and the idealized sailor of a romantic mezzotint or historical painting to real life. It was done by Philip James de Loutherbourg, the artist who painted "The Battle of the First of June, 1794", studied in the blog earlier in the month.  http://napoleonictars.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-battle-of-first-of-june-1794-1795.html

The provenance note from the British Museum states that "Robert Williams was a Yeoman of the Sheets from Virginia who was promoted to Boatswain of the Osprey sloop on 26 November 1797. (letter from Mrs Sara Cutler, 26 June 2005, in dossier)." The handwritten note at the top of the image (I don't know if it's contemporary to when the image was painted or not) reads "Robt. Williams, boatswains Mate. Venorable once Sailed with Capt. Winthorpe.

Robert Williams certainly looks like a sailor. As in a caricature his hair is short, wavy, and full, with bangs in the front, falling to his shoulders in the back. Short whiskers curl beside his ears, stopping at the lobe. He wears a single-breasted blue jacket (or possibly a coat, since the collar and single-breasted cut are different than many jackets) with one button done up.

Around his neck he wears a voluminous red handkerchief, wrapped in such a way that you can't see the ends so it looks almost like a scarf. The neckline of his sweater ends around his collarbone, showing a hint of blue and white checked shirt underneath. He looks slightly away from the viewer with an ambiguous expression - a wonderful window into what a late 18th or early 19th century sailor actually looked like.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Battle of the First of June, 1794 (1795)

On June 1, 1794 the British and French forces clashed in the Atlantic Ocean about 400 nautical miles west of the island of Ushant, the culmination of a month-long campaign across the Bay of Biscay that included the capture of merchant ships, smaller warships, and two inconclusive fleet actions.
A French fleet under the command of Rear-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse had sailed from Brest earlier in May to intercept a vital convoy of grain from the United States to France, and the British Channel Fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Howe had in turn sailed to confront the French. Neither side encountered the convoy, which reached Brest in safety, and instead the two fleets made contact on May 28.
Plan of Lord Howe's action off Ushant.
Ink and watercolor sketch by James Gillray, formerly attributed to Philip James de Loutherbourg. 

As Royal Museums Greenwich summarizes, "In the opening engagement Howe disabled the three-decker 'Révolutionnaire', 110 guns. On 29 May he cut the French line to leeward and for the next two days the fleets manoeuvred in fog and out of contact until Howe brought the French to full action and defeat on 1 June approximately 225 nautical miles (416 km) further west. Six French ships of the line were taken and one sunk."
The Battle of the First of June 1794. Oil on canvas.
Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg, London, 1795.
Painter Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg celebrated this victory in his monumental 1795 painting, The Battle of the First of June, 1794 (originally exhibited in 1795 as Earl Howe's Victory over the French Fleet), the subject of today's post. As the curator's note for RMG states,
"Using man's heroic struggle against the sea itself to enhance the conflict of the opposing fleets, the artist's response is in the Romantic tradition, depicting both the dramatic and human nature of the event."
Several events unfold in the painting, whose composition is dominated by the fight between the flagships:

  • the duel between the opposing flagships "Queen Charlotte" on the left (100 guns, commanded by Howe) and "Montagne" on the right (120 guns, commanded by Villaret-Joyeuse)
  • the sinking of the "Vengeur du Peuple", port-broadside view, in the left background
  • the smoke the topsails of other ships
  • the attempts to rescue the crew of the Vengeur crew by other ships and an English boat in the right foreground
  • several more English boats rescuing drowning Frenchmen in the left foreground

The effect of the British fire shows in the confusion aboard the Montagne and the bodies falling from her gun ports. Meanwhile the Queen Charlotte has lost her fore-topmast, which resulted in her dropping astern of the Montagne and never managing to engage with the ship in the position as shown in the painting and thus capture the French flagship. The portrayal of this detail "reportedly led to disapproval of the picture by Lord Howe and more so by his Master of the Fleet, James Bowen.. The latter considered it a slur on the 'Queen Charlotte' on the grounds that the French flagship would not have escaped, had he managed to get alongside her in the way shown."
Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg, self portrait. Oil on canvas. 1805-1810. 
De Loutherbourg was a Strasbourg-born painter and member of the French Academy who moved to London in 1771 at the request of actor David Garrick, where he worked as the scenic director at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane until 1785. He was an acclaimed theater designer and continued his success as a painter with a career in England as a Romantic landscape painter. His other famous nautical paintings include The Battle of Camperdown (1799).

Loutherbourg was elected to the Royal Academy in 1781 and exhibited there most years until his death in 1812. The Battle of the First of June is signed and dated 'P J de Loutherbourg RA 1795'.

The artist James Gillray assisted with the sketching and painting of the figures, and both men composed a number of sketches in preparation for the painting. Loutherbourg went to Portsmouth to view the prizes, and a surviving letter from 1808 states that he went on board the 'Sans Pareil' at least once. From the perspective of the student of maritime costume the studies show no more than indistinct figures in caps and jackets.
Leaf from a sketchbook, for the picture of Lord Howe's Victory, by Philip James de Loutherbourg. 1794.
Pen and black ink with grey wash, over graphite. British Museum.

Ships in battle, study for the painting of 'Lord Howe's Victory', by Philip James de Loutherbourg. 1794. 
Pen and black ink with grey wash, over graphite. British Museum.

Other related sketches in the collection of the British Museum by Gillray and Loutherbourg can be viewed here (sketches of ships with signal flags and a French buoy), here (study of the Queen Charlotte's rigging), here (study of a ship's bow), and here (study of  "Le Juste" and "L'Amerique").

Loutherbourg's painting was commissioned for issue as an engraving for £500, to be paired with his 1794 painting "'The Grand Attack on Valenciennes'". The paintings were sold into private hands after they were exhibited, and First of June was ultimately purchased by the Prince of Wales, becoming part of the Royal Collection. Upon the Prince's ascension as George IV in 1820 and removal to St. James's Palace the painting needed a pendant (a painting of a similar size and theme), which led to JMW Turner's only royal commission, his 1824 painting of the Battle of Trafalgar. This controversial work was delivered in 1824. Turner's painting was poorly received by the public for its inaccuracy and lack of a display of proper heroic action, and the King ordered the removal of both works from St James's to the Naval Gallery at Greenwich Hospital in 1829.

Loutherbourg's painting is not a perfectly accurate depiction of the battle it portrays, but unlike Turner's painting - where the shooting of Nelson disappears into a wild riot of canvas and carnage - the image is a decidedly traditional, patriotic, and heroic image, with considerable care taken in the accuracy of the details, such as which flags the ships were flying.

Amidst the grandeur of the battle the foreground is filled with men in smallboats struggling against the sea to help the men in it, demonstrating compassion to the defeated enemy. In the extreme right of the picture is an English ship, in port-bow view, possibly the "Brunswick", with figures French sailors clinging to a mast.
In the middle of the painting two more boats of English sailors are pulling men aboard. The sailors are dressed in a variety of garments, including blue and white trousers, blue checked and white shirts, black felt round hats, blue jackets with open mariner's cuffs, and red waistcoats. In the boat on the right in this detail notice the man to the furthest right in the boat and the man towards the bow in what look like straw hats - a very interesting detail.
On the right an English lieutenant stands in another boat while his crew help the drowning French sailors aboard. The English sailors are largely in their shirtsleeves. A man in the background wears a white shirt and red waistcoat, while a sailor helping a French sailor aboard wears a blue jacket and white trousers. Several others wear white shirts and black handkerchiefs. with waistcoats in white or tan. One man in shirtsleeves reaching overboard to grab a French sailor's hand has short pale hair, clearly curled at the bottom in a bob.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Irish Pilot or Steering by Chance (1812)

"An Irish Pilot, or Steering by Chance". London, 1812. Royal Museums Greenwich.
The British Navy was made up of a number of nationalities, including Welsh, Irish, and Scottish, as well as seamen from Scandinavia and America. The diversity of the lower deck provided ample fodder for caricaturists, as in my previous post about Welshmen, and this engraving entitled "Makeing a Compass at Sea or the Use of a Scotch Louse".

This English engraving from 1812 features a captain with a spyglass says, "Now en't you a pretty fellow for a Pilot? to see Land and not know where we are!", to which the pilot replies, "Och my dear Jewel! only shew me the Old head of Kinsale, and I'll tell you where to an Inch!"
The sailor on the left wears black tie shoes and white stockings, with blue striped trousers, the lacing of which can be seen at his back. He wears a short-cut blue jacket on his torso, and the sleeves of his blue and white checked shirt bell out beyond the ends of his cuffs. His brown hair is short and curly.
The Irish pilot is not a member of the ship's crew, but dresses similarly. He wears black tie shoes and white stockings, and his blue trousers are long and wide. His white waistcoat is worn unbuttoned at the top and bottom and his black handkerchief is tied tightly around his neck, the ends streaming out in the breeze. His brown jacket is worn open. On his head he wears an orange tube cap with a white brim, and from under it peeps a mass of curly brown hair.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jack hove down - With a Grog Blossom Fever, (c 1805)

Jack Hove Down - With a Grog Blossom Fever. Thomas Tegg, London, c. 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.

Today's image is a very expressive caricature of a sailor who's had too much to drink, arguing with the physician tending to him. This image is from one of Thomas Tegg's early 19th c. series of caricatures.
'hold---I must stop your Grog Jack---it excites those impulses, and concussions of the Thorax, which a company Ternutation by which means You are in a sort of a kind of a Situation---that Your head must be-Shaved- I shall take from you only 20 oz of Blood-then swallow this Draught and Box of Pills, and I shall administer to You a Clyster.

'Stop my Grog-Belay there Doctor---Shiver my timbers but your lingo bothers me-You May batter my Hull as long as you like, but I'll be d--'nd if You ever board me with your Clyster pipe.
Jack lies in his hammock under a patterned green blanket in a blue and white striped shirt, a bottle of grog in one hand. On his head he wears a simple brown tube cap, gathered at the top, from which peeks out wavy brown hair. His blue jacket lies on the deck, with a partially-unbuttoned mariner's cuff visible - two buttons buttoned, two unbuttoned. His shirt is worn with narrow cuffs closed with sleeve buttons, and his broad collar spreads over a red handkerchief tied below his breastbone.

In Jack's sea chest are a number of labeled items, including one named "pig tail"! [edited to add: as a kind reader pointed out, it's a type of tobacco!]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Use of a Gentleman or Patronage for the Admiralty (1810)

The Use of a Gentleman or Patronage for the Admiralty. Published by Thomas Tegg, London. Undated; c. 1810. The British Museum.

The undiscerning nature of the press gang appeared frequently in 18th century caricatures like The Liberty of the Subject (1779), but in this 19th century update the artist mocks the results of the press laying their hands on members of the social elite.
 The Use of a Gentleman or Patronage for the Admiralty. Royal Museums Greenwich copy.

The scene shows two gentlemen in fashionable civilian clothes pleading their case to an officer. Their exaggerated clothes and posture are contrasted with the round and solid plainness of the sailors, and their useless refinements in contrast to the blunt, practical effectiveness of the clubs and shackles of the press gang.

One fresh recruits pleads his case, that he is indeed a gentleman who is well known in Bond Street. The officer hopes that the man will be able to teach his crew some manners: "Yes, yes! I see you are every inch a Gentleman, and just the person we want, my men have pressed a d---'d numer [sic] of Blackguards, and we want a Gentleman on board to teach them good manners!"  

This image shows a few items new to this blog, including men wearing cutlasses with balrdics! The sailor with his back to the viewer wears black pumps, blue (or white) trousers with hems that drag on the ground. Although he carries a solid stick in his right hand he also wears a cutlass on a baldric, with a black scabbard with a yellow chape and locket. His jacket is blue, with buttons painted yellow in the British Museum copy. Shoulder-length brown hair peeps out from under a black round hat.

His mate on the far right left wears white (or light blue, or white being shown in shadow) trousers, a blue jacket, and a yellow handkerchief with red spots. Brown curly hair peeping out from under a black round hat completes the look.

The central two sailors offer much to look at. The man on the left wears black buckled shoes, dark blue (or light blue, or white being shown in shadow) trousers, again with wide legs and cuffs that drag on the ground. a blue jacket (with small yellow buttons in the British Museum copy), and a black hat with a tightly-curled brim, with straight brown hair peeping out from under it. In the British Museum's copy his waistcoat is indistinguishable from his jacket and his handkerchief is black, while in the Royal Museums Greenwich print his waistcoat and handkerchief are white.

The sailor at the center of the print is colored almost the same in both versions. He stands with his legs wide, wearing small buckled shoes, white stockings, and broadfall trousers with very wide legs and cuffs that drag extremely on the ground. He wears a red waistcoat, white shirt, and black handkerchief. His blue jacket has gold buttons in the British Museum copy - the only difference. He also wears a cutlass on a baldric, though he carries a stout cudgel under one arm. Brown curly shoulder length hair peeps out from a round hat with tightly-curled sides and a piece of string tied around the hatband.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Book Deal! - April Fools!

Napoleonic Tars: 1790-1820 is pleased to announce its first book deal! Color along with such figures as Jack Tar, Lord Nelson, Boney, and Poll of Portsmouth, and learn how the artistic choices of early 19th century painters and print colorists shape modern perceptions of sailor clothing!
This is only an April Fools joke at the moment, but National Coloring Book Day is August 2nd - a PDF coloring book released with permission of the Walpole Library is in the distinct realm of possibility.

The image is "The Sailor's Will and His Power", 1808.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Brave Tars of the Victory, and the Remains of the Lamented Nelson (1805)

"The Brave Tars of the Victory, and the Remains of the Lamented Nelson". Rudolph Ackerman. London, England. December 9, 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.

"Broadsides: Caricature and the Navy 1756-1815" notes of this print,
"The fierce loyalty that Nelson inspired among those who served under him was a recurring feature of his posthumous appearance in caricature. In [this print], the result of a fruitful collaboration between George Woodward and Thomas Rowlandson, two tars deal with the death of their hero in a typically bluff and honest manner. The crew of the Victory had insisted on bringing Nelson home themselves, rather than move his body to a faster frigate. Jack, on the right, leans protectively over Nelson's coffin as he reassures his comrade that he will watch over his precious cargo until it arrives safely in England whereupon, he predicts, 'his monument will be erected in the heart of every Briton.' Woodward and Rowlandson's print appeared just days after Nelson's battered flagship finally reached home. 
...By focusing on the no-nonsense actions of Nelson's men, sympathetic caricatures such as [this one] foreground the other icon around which patriotic fervor could coalesce: the ordinary British sailor."
The tar on the left wears black shoes with round white buckles, white stockings, and tan petticoat breeches. His blue jacket is worn open with the top button on his single breasted jacket buttoned back, showing a white waistcoat over a protruding belly. His full-sleeved white shirt is visible under his open cuffs. Around his neck he wears a black handkerchief with the knot tied under his chin. He clutches a red and yellow striped handkerchief in one hand, and holds a black round hat with a large blue rosette in the other. His brown hair is short and curly, white sideburns reaching down to his earlobes.

The tar guarding Nelson (in a nice trunk) on the right is wearing black shoes with round white buckles, white stockings, and blue trousers. His blue jacket is also worn open, with a full sleeved white shirt peeking out of his open cuffs. His neck cloth looks to be striped in two different colors of purple. His brown hair is short and curly, and the round hat sitting on top of the trunk has a blue ribbon with "Victory" around it and a sprig of green stuck in it, making me wonder if the lettered hat band is not representative of a standard practice, but something special done in memory of Nelson, like the tars in this print from 1806.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jack Tars conversing with Boney on the Blockade of Old England, 1806

"Jack Tars conversing with Boney on the Blockade of Old England". London, 1806. British Museum.

Today's image deals with the mutual blockades imposed by Great Britain and Napoleon. After Napoleon gave up his plans to invade England in 1806, he prohibited trade across the channel between his continental empire and Britain, hoping to ruin their economy. The British response was to blockade the entire French-controlled continent, and capture all ships leaving French ports as contraband. The resulting blockade by land and sea is satirized here by artist Charles Williams.

While Bonaparte cries from shore that his blockade is effective, the two British tars in their boat, supplied with grog and pipe-tobacco, think otherwise. "Why, what do you mean by that you whipper snapper - here's Toms pipes and I in this little cock boat, will Blockade you so that you dare not bring out a single Vessel;- Blockade indeed! you are a pretty fellow to talk of Blokading!"

Breaking the fourth wall, the personified John Bull cries from afar on a hill, "I cannot help laughing at the whimsical conceit".  
The two sailors are painted in diverse ways: the standing sailor wears a rusty brown-red double breasted jacket cut at hip length. The jacket is worn buttoned, with the buttons painted over so they appear cloth-covered. His black handkerchief is worn outside his jacket and hanging down to his navel, with a big knot around his breastbone. He wears red and white striped trousers.

The seated sailor wears a hip-length blue jacket, a black handkerchief, and striped grey or blue pants. He clamps a white clay pipe in his mouth.

Both sailors wear amorphous black hats with blue rosettes and blue hat ribbons, upon which is written "NELSON". This is the second instance of lettered hatbands that I've noted in this blog,  the first being the 1798 print "Jack Tar settling Buonaparte", and British Tars: 1740-1790 shared an instance of political hatbands in a political cartoon caricature from 1788. It is worth nothing that all three of these instances are political, and not the names of ships.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

John Bull Peeping into Brest, 1803

Today's etching is a caricature that I confess I'm selecting mostly because the oversized head and exaggerated features reminds me a lot of Hayao Miyazaki's artistic style, and it's a generally kinda weird image.
"John Bull Peeping into Brest". George Woodward. London, 1803. National Maritime Museum.

Our Brobdingnagian John Bull looks down on the French fleet blockaded into Brest, complete with a teeny tiny Napoleon, who cries "mercy on us what a monster - he'll swallow all my ships at a mouth-ful. I hope he dont see me. John Bull himself states, "Upon my word - a very Pretty light Breakfast."

One advantage of John Bull being drawn as a giant is that the image is quite clear about what he's wearing, and the large scale made it easier for a colorist to add details. His striped red trousers alternate between a broad red band and a narrow red stripe. His blue jacket has mariner's cuffs worn unbuttoned with three yellow buttons on the cuff. His blue jacket is worn shut, with five yellow buttons visible. His handkerchief is purple with a pattern of five small yellow spots arranged in an x, a common "spott'd" design created by resist dyeing that was popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. A similar spott'd handkerchief is worn by a rower in John Singleton Copley's famous 1778 painting Watson and the Shark, and reproductions are available from the retailer Burnley and Trowbridge.

John Bull's brown hair looks almost wiglike, but is worn short and seems somewhat curly. His hat is of the "squashy" type shown in caricatures, with a relatively wide brim, a low crown with a rounded top, and a wide blue hat ribbon with a large blue rosette, facing backwards.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

John Bull offering Little Boney Fair Play (1804)

John Bull offering Little Boney Fair Play. Published by H. Humphreys, London, 1804. British Museum.

Today's image is a political caricature featuring a jolly tar with the visage of Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence - I featured another caricature of a sailor with the prince's visage in December in the 1795 engraving "A True British Tar". In today's engraving the sailor stands boldly in water representing the English channel, hands on his hips, while behind a wall a spindly Napoleon cries "I'm a com'ing", The bare-chested sailor cries "You're a'coming? You be d_n'd!"

Drawn up on shore in front of Boney's fortress are the fleet of small boats, representing Napoleon's threat of invading Great Britain.

The bulky sailor in the print wears striped petticoat trousers with a fall-front closure. The large handkerchief tied under his chin is red and yellow, and his round black hat, set at a jaunty angle with an odd upturned brim, has a "squashy" crown with a huge blue rosette.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Death of Admiral Lord Nelson (1805 caricature)

"The Death of Admiral Lord Nelson". James Gillray. London: 1805. Royal Museums Greenwich.

Today we return to caricatures with James Gillray's 1805 satire "The Death of Lord Nelson". The image shows the wounded Nelson on the deck of HMS Victory, with a winged figure in the background blowing a trumpet that spurts fire like a cannon and signaling immortality.

Nelson is supported by Lord Hardy, whom Gillray has drawn to resemble King George III, and by a grief-stricken personification of Brittania, who is recognizable in caricature as Emma Hamilton.

"Broadsides: Caricatures and the Navy 1756-1815" gives the following commentary on the print:
The hubbub around the dying figure may be exaggerated to the point of absurdity, but the sense of personal and national grief conveyed by Gillray's print is no less authentic. The real  target of the artist's satire, it seems, is not Nelson (who finds redemption in death), but in the unbridled and, at times, unseemly race to institutionalize the loss of national hero. An inscription beneath the image informs the viewer that the allegory is, in fact, a proposal for an official memorial for the City of London, intended "to commemorate the Glorious Death of the immortal Nelson." In the event, Gillray's overstated tribute proved prescient, as many such proposals came to light n the wake of Nelson's death and funeral.
 In the background of the print are a number of common British tars, who are of course the focus of interest of this blog.
Two loyal sailors gaze upon their fallen Admiral. The one kneeling wears black shoes with buckles painted yellow, horizontally blue and white striped stockings, light brown breeches tied at the knee, white petticoat trousers, a blue and white shirt vertically-striped in the body, a red and yellow patterned handkerchief worn very loose so that it rests over the jacket, and a blue jacket worn open with buttons also painted blue. The sailor is bare-headed and clean-shaven, and his brown hair is short and straight.

The standing sailor holds his black round hat in his hand, revealing its white lining. His brown hair is short and straight. He is not wearing a jacket, revealing a striped blue and white shirt and loosely-tied red and yellow patterned handkerchief tied over his light brown waistcoat, which is worn unbuttoned almost to his navel.  

In the background several more tars work a gun. One hauling on a tackle of the gun appears to have vertically-striped (or it could be the hatching of the engraver; it's hard to tell) blue and white stockings and petticoat trousers. The two on the right wear blue jackets and black round hats, while the man firing the gun wears petticoat trousers and a blue jacket. His head might be bare, or wearing a cap - it's hard to tell from so little information.
A final indistinct tar in the rigging wears what might be white breeches or petticoat trousers and stockings, with a blue jacket and black round hat.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Watermen, 1807

I've speculated about potential differences between the clothing of coastal watermen, river bargemen, or fishermen versus the clothing of blue-water sailors before, so today's image is of watermen!

"Watermen", John Augustus Atkinson. London: 1807. British Museum.

Once again drawing from "A Picturesque Representation of the Costumes of Great Britain", this 1807 print depicts two watermen with a boat. One man wrangles with the boat's bow or balances it, while the other, hat off, looks like he's trying to drum up a customer, with a pair of oars leaning against the wall behind him.
The man pushing the boat into the water is dressed much like a sailor - a round hat with curled sides, short hair, a neck-cloth with the back worn outside his shirt, breeches, and tie shoes.

The man offering his boat to passers-by has a round hat, short-cropped hair, a big neck cloth, a waistcoat, breeches, and buckled shoes. His coat is full skirted, with a badge on his left arm showing him to be a London waterman. Turn back mariner's cuffs (worn closed) complete his sleeves.

Outside of the bargeman's badge these two men specifically identified as watermen aren't enormously different in their dress from sailors. However, Atkinson portrays other sailors in his series of engravings in trousers, often with long queued hair, so their breeches and short hair differentiate them in this series at least.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Glory of Old England, 1803

"The Glory of Old England" (subtitled "Briton's Protection"). London, England: 1803. British Museum

Today's image is an interesting detail from a poster that the catalog suggests might be a music cover. The publisher is listed as Laurie & Whittle of London, who produced several broadside ballads of the early 1800s that I've covered in previous posts. Published in August, 1803 after the wake of the end of the Peace of Amiens, the image is a snapshot of the patriotic fervor of the time. It reminds the public of where their protection from the ravages of Bonaparte and his threats to invade England comes from: the might of the Navy (personified not as an officer, but as a common British tar) and the Army.

In the center of the image Brittania sits in a seal inscribed with the caption "My country's supporters". To her left in the sea are ships at sea, and to the right are the tents of an army, while outside the seal, leaning on it, are the sailor and soldier. Supporters is meant in the heraldric sense of figures standing on either side of a shield in a coat of arms, and holding it up.

The Royal Navy sailor at left wears black shoes with square buckles left white. His trousers, tight in the lower leg, showing his calves, and stopping just above the ankle to show white stockings, are a light tan. His blue jacket is worn open with four buttons on his sleeve - worn buttoned shut for once - and looks to be double breasted. His black handkerchief is tied quite loosely around his neck, with his white shirt visible and unbuttoned at the collar. His red waistcoat has four rows of tiny buttons! It's worn almost completely unbuttoned, showing his white shirt beneath.

The sailor's hat is a "squashy" one - though less exaggerated than ones in caricatures - with a small brim and a blue ribbon and rosette. His brown hair is short and straight.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Post captain, 1807

Post Captain. John Augustus Atkinson. London, England: 1807. British Museum.

Today I return to A Picturesque Representation of the Costumes of Great Britain. This interesting romantic vignette of shipboard life shows an officer standing on the deck of a ship waving a speaking  trumpet, though of course what interests me is the two sailors firing a cannon in the background.
The two sailors look like every movie stereotype of the early 19th century sailor out there! One is bare-headed and sports a long, thick queue that reaches to the bottom of his back, and the other wears a kerchief tied around his head while also having another loosely tied around hie neck). Both have taken off their jackets and their shirtsleeves are rolled up; the queued man wears a waistcoat. They wear loose trousers and shoes - the standing man can be seen to have buckled shoes.

Friday, February 3, 2017

An Admiral's Porter, 1790

An Admiral's Porter, George Woodward, 1790, Wellcome Library.

Two injured veteran sailors are now employed by an Admiral to carry messages for him. They stand at the door of a town house, where a liveried servant and an aggressive hound look at the pair disapprovingly.

Both sailors wear their hair short and have black round hats with unusually wide brims, but otherwise are dressed quite differently. The sailor on the left wears a red coat with a collar, buttons painted yellow, and flap pockets. He wears a white cravat, light brown slops, white stockings, and rounded-toe shoes with round white buckles. He carries his arm in a sling.

The one-legged sailor to the right wears a blue short jacket with buttons painted yellow, mariner's cuffs with the first button worn unbuttoned, and a broad turned-down collar. His neckerchief is white and red spotted. He wears red striped trousers, and on his remaining foot a white stocking and a pointed-toe shoe with a square white buckle.

Today's image was originally shared on British Tars: 1740-1790, and was posted there on August 19, 2014.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lacing in Style, 1819

"Lacing in Style". London: 1819. Royal Museums Greenwich.
Today we jump forward in  time to 1819 with this great satirical T. Teagg print from 1819: "Lacing in Style, or A Dandy Midshipman preparing for Attraction". A parody of the exaggerated genteel male fashions of the late 1810s, this print shows a midshipman getting his fashionably-waspish waist by having sailors on a capstan winching him tight. The fashion was much-mocked: as the Marine says, "Stays!!! Well, I've a good mind to get petticoats!"

While their officer follow the vagaries of civilian fashion, the Royal Navy sailors on deck reflect the slow, steady change in nautical fashion as well. Closing out the era this blog covers, these sailors are beginning to show many of the signs of the modest revolution sailor fashion undergoes after the end of the Napoleonic Wars: long queues, Guernsey frocks, long trousers that drag on the ground at the heel, and tie shoes.

The sailor sitting on the gun smoking a pipe wears little black pumps, white socks, striped red and white trousers, a blue jacket, and a shapeless black round hat. His queued hair was left uncolored by the artist, making it look blond with a white queue tie.

The four sailors at the capstan are dressed in a motley of clothes: red and white striped trousers, blue trousers, white trousers; a red and white striped Guernsey frock, blue jackets; a tightly-tied white cravat, a loosely-tied red handkerchief. Their little black pumps are tied. The sailor with his back to the viewer has a long, thick brown queue, and the other three sailors look like they have short hair. Two wear black round hats, one wears what looks like a brown "carpenter's cap", and the fourth man is bareheaded.