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.