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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gallant Behaviour of an English Sailor, c.1785


Gallant behaviour of an English Sailor in offering a sword to an unarmed Spaniard to defend himself, at the taking of Fort Omoa, in the Bay of Honduras, October 20th 1779, artist unknown, 1779-1787, Wikimedia Commons.

Here is another edition of the sailor at Omoa, which we've seen here before! Copies of this particular print exist in both the collections of the Library of Congress and the National Maritime Museum. Unfortunately, neither of those collections offers an online scan of the image. I have drawn this one from Wikimedia Commons. This print was engraved for Raymond's History of England, a work that (according to the Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums) was first published in 1754, but continued into 1787. The Library of Congress dates this c. 1785, as the particular edition that this was published in included events through the Spring of 1784.

Though intended as a historical piece, rather than as a caricature or political cartoon, this engraving portrays the Spaniard in archaic clothing more reminiscent of the seventeenth century than the late eighteenth. Portrayals of Spaniards as backward or out of sync with the times were incredibly common among English cartoonists, but this is the first time I've seen it in a piece that is apparently serious.

The sailor wears no hat, but wears his hair short and loose. Without a neckcloth, his white shirt and jacket hang open. The jacket is single breasted without pockets or collar, ending right at the waist. His trousers end just above the ankle, revealing rounded toe shoes. Three of his mates mount a ladder over the fortress walls, but we can say nothing more about them than that they wear jackets.

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