Monday, January 16, 2017

Sailors, 1807

"Sailors". John Augustus Atkinson, London, 1807. British Museum.
This weeks posts will look at some plates containing sailors as portrayed in John Augustus's Atkinson's series of prints on "A picturesque representation of the costumes of Great Britain", published from 1807-1808. The series is more serious than caricatures, but at the same time it does rely on romantic imagery, which might not be wholly accurate to life.

Today's post shows four sailors on the shore talking, two talking in the foreground and two pushing a boat into the water in the background.
The man with his back to the viewer wears a low-crowned round hat with a curled brim. His hair is worn long in a thick queue that reaches to mid-back, clearly tied with a thick tape or ribbon. His jacket, with a turned-down collar and mariner's cuffs worn unbuttoned, is cut short, showing a gap of shirt between his jacket and the waistband of his trousers. His trousers rest slightly above his hips and are tied in the back, cut tight in the leg but loose at the ankle. They're long, reaching to his heels and covering his shoes.

The seated man he's speaking to is smoking a pipe and wearing a hat style I'm unfamiliar with. He wears a very large handkerchief tied loosely around the neck, and a voluminous smock that reaches almost to his knees. On his legs he wears tight trousers or what might be sea boots - it was hard for me to tell. His shoes are tied.
In the background two more sailors push a boat into the water. One of them wears long, queued hair and a jacket with a high-cut waist.  They both wear round hats and trousers that are tight in the leg and loose at the ankle.


  1. I am studying and trying to recreate lanterns used by sailors. Do you see very many illustrated?

    1. According to 1803 contracts for the Royal Navy, “Horn’d Hand Lanthorns” were 1’ 2” tall and 7” in diameter at the bottom. They had 12 panes of horn, and presumably had a hinged door to access the candle. (ADM 95/18, 19 May 1803, f. 135.)

  2. The seated man is wearing an apron as well. This combined with the leggings and hat suggest that he may be a ship's carpenter or blacksmith.