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.