Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Heaving the Lead, 1807

"Heaving the Lead". London: 1807. British Museum.
My third image from John Augustus's Atkinson's print series "A picturesque representation of the costumes of Great Britain"is one many of you might be familiar with: "Heaving the Lead". This 1807 print shows a sailor standing in the chains, using a lead line to measure the depth of the water.

The simple depiction of a sailor performing a mundane, omnipresent part of shipboard life have made this image a popular one for reuse, and it has been reproduced in numerous books covering the time period from the 18th century throughout the late 19th. Its clear composition also makes it a popular candidate for being copied by different engravers for books throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries - for example, this plate in the 1913 book "Ships and Ways of other Days".
Colored versions of this image are the most popularly-used for reproduction, so for my close analysis of  this image I'm using this copy in the collection of the British Library. The colored version also makes it clearer to see the two sailors working inboard.
"Heaving the Lead". London: 1807. British Library. 
The sailor heaving the lead wears black shoes with square white buckles. His white trousers, cut tight around the knee, are long and come down to the heels of his shoes, with a broad fall. He wears a double-breasted blue jacket worn shut, with small yellow buttons. His mariner's cuffs have three buttons, and one on his left wrist is worn undone. His neck cloth is red with white spots, tied up close to his neck with the ends hanging out. From underneath his blue jacket a checked shirt with a narrow cuff can be seen at his wrists.

On his head he wears a straw hat - far less commonly portrayed by artists than black round hats. A pipe is stuck into the band. The hat has a slightly-rounded top and a tightly-curved brim. It is of medium height, neither a low like a modern "Amish" style hat nor as tall as a "top" hat. Glimpsed under the hat is a bit of short, curly brown hair
In the background one sailor wears white trousers cut full in the lower leg and tight around the knee, with a checked shirt, a neck cloth of indiscriminate color, and a black round hat,
The other sailor wears white trousers, a blue jacket, and a black hat.

No comments:

Post a Comment