Wednesday, December 7, 2016
His Majesty Reviewing the Fleet at Spithead, 1773
His Majesty Reviewing the Fleet at Spithead, John Cleveley the Elder, 1773, Richard Green Fine Paintings.
In contrast to his son's piece, John Cleveley the Elder takes his penchant for populating his paintings with people and amps it up. Even though the event itself was about the fleet, the entire Royal Navy is relegated to the background and the focus is entirely on the crowd. Cleveley is known for his accurate depiction of ships, due in part to his training as a shipwright, and so it is at least a little surprising that he chose instead to show the diverse people gathered to watch the greatest gathering of warships in a generation.
Among the crowd is a pocket of sailors. To the right at the corner of the parapet are four tars watching the show. Furthest to the right is a mariner in a wide brimmed and conical crowned round hat, a red jacket with three vents, and a dark pair of trousers. Standing beside him is a sailor wearing a round hat with a short brim and rounded crown, a brown jacket with a single vent, and dark trousers (maybe brown) ending above the ankle. Two more sailors sit nearby. One wears a round hat pinned up on one side, a triple vented brown jacket with slit cuffs, and trousers that might be white or grey. The other wears a cocked hat, and a grey double vented jacket. All three sailors appear to be wearing bob wigs.
The bargemen themselves appear to be without bargemen's uniforms, but wearing normal slop clothes. Cocked hats, round hats, and various colored jackets abound.