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Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Sailor Bringing up his Hammock, Pallas, 1774


A sailor bringing up his hammock, Pallas, Gabriel Bray, 1774, National Maritime Museum.

The hammock slung over our sailor's shoulder is marked with his initials, "CD." Initialing gear was standard for sailors in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, as evidenced by the artifacts recovered from the wreck of the General Carleton of Whitby. It is bound over and over again with rope, until it resembles some sort of giant maggot.

His cap is probably a Monmouth/Dutch knit cap, though it could be a round hat with a very short brim. The hair peeking beneath is the familiar loose hair, hanging about shoulder length.

The artists skimped a bit on the details of the short jacket, but we can conclude that it is the fairly standard waist length blue wool, most likely single breasted, and appears to have slash cuffs. The neckcloth is a light orange (or faded red), tied in what appears to a square knot. His waistcoat is waist length and brown, but this Jack is turned at just such an angle that it is impossible to make out the button arrangement on the piece.

Most fascinating about this piece is his breeches. We know sailors wore breeches, but they are often hidden behind slops in images of them (see "Bostonians Paying the Exciseman"). The sailor wears a air of blue breeches, matching the color of the jacket and suggesting that they are cut from the same fabric. The breeches are tightly fitted above his notably pronounced calves, and the knees appear to be fitted with cloth covered buttons. Due to the angle, the artist has not painted what sort of fly the breeches might have.

The tar's stockings are white. His shoes are pointed toe with rectangular buckles.

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