Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An east view of Fort Royal in the Island of Guadaloupe, 1768

An east view of Fort Royal in the Island of Guadaloupe, Lieutenant Archibald Campell, engraved by Peter Mazel, 1768, Library of Congress.

Lieutenant Campbell composed more than one image of Fort Royal during the occupation of Guadaloupe by the British during the Seven Years War. I've featured his North view of the fort in a previous post.

Guadaloupe was one of the Caribbean islands that the British seized from the French during the war, and was returned to them with the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

Just as in Campbell's North view, the East view shows sailors cavorting with soldiers. This time, it isn't a tarpawlin and a lobsterback shaking hands, but a small mess of drinking, smoking, chatting sailors being warned by one sentry of another's approach.

Don't forget, you can click on images to enlarge them!

With a slight smile, our sentry taps this Jack on his back. The sailor in the detail above wears wide legged trousers or slops/petticoat trousers that run all the way to the top of his ankles. Atop his head is an interesting hat. It looks, at first glance, to be a cocked hat, point forward, with the rear brim let down to cover his neck. This makes perfect sense in a tropical climate, but is also the first time I've ever seen this on a primary source image of sailors.

Then again, it might be a round hat with just one brim turned up by the wind. Given the lack of movement on any other fabric, and the slowly rising smoke from the pipes, I'm inclined toward my earlier opinion. What do you think?

In any case, Jack also leans on a walking stick, and wears a double vented jacket with no collar that ends about the top of the thigh.

Sprawled across the ground in relaxation, three sailors enjoy the setting sun, tobacco, and a bottle.

The sailor on the far left, holding the mallet bottle, wears a cocked hat with the point reversed, a jacket with no collar or cuffs, and no waistcoat. A neatly tied neckcloth hangs down over his plain shirt. Wide legged trousers run down to his ankles, where he wears pointed toe shoes.

Our other two tars look beyond their mate toward the horizon. Each of them wears the same slop clothes as their mate, save their headwear. The chap in the background wears a workcap or knit cap, but the tar on the right is a bit harder to nail down. It could be that he's wearing a jockey style cap, but I cannot be sure.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Drawing of a sloop, 1789

Drawing of a sloop, John Thomas Serres, 1789, British Museum.

John was the English born son of the painter Dominic Serres. Dominic was a French born merchant captain captured by the English in the 1740's who settled in London and spent the rest of his life as a famous maritime artist. Dominic was a founder of the Royal Academy, which must have cast a rather long shadow for his son!

John depicts a small crew aboard the sloop as it rides a stiff breeze over choppy waters. They wear round hats with somewhat wider brims and jackets that end at the waist. They appear to wear white trousers, but only the sailor standing by the mast is in a position for us to see the nature of his trousers. The legs are close fitting, so at least for this tar we can conclude that he is not wearing slops/petticoat trousers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Great Encouragement for Seamen, 1777

"Great Encouragement for Seamen" broadside, E. Russell, 1777, Library of Congress American Memory.

Today's entry is a bit different. Broadsides were a useful recruitment tool for naval and privateer vessels throughout the eighteenth century. Encouraging sailors to sign up with promises of prize money, the authors of these advertisements tried to play to both the sailor's patriotism and their pocketbook.

This broadside is an important piece of history in that it is calling for sailors to man the Ranger under the legendary John Paul Jones. It was this voyage that brought news of Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga, and brought France into the American Revolutionary War on the side of the Americans.

This figure does not appear to be a sailor. He wears a mitre cap, a regimental coat, breeches, stockings, and a soldier's spatterdashes. Matched with the field gun on the left (clearly not a naval cannon), I think we can safely say this is not a tar. Still, the pose is a familiar one, having appeared on numerous broadsides, not unlike "The British Flag Insulted, a Satyrical Song" from 1757.

Here's where things get interesting. The coat of arms depicted here shows a two masted vessel over a whale or fish. To the left is a phyrgian cap on a pole, a commonly used symbol of liberty. To the right is a figure that almost perfectly matches the previous detail: regimental coat, spatterdashes, and cutlass. His cap might be a mitre cap, a thrum cap, a Dutch cap...maybe even another phyrgian cap! Regardless, this figure is clearly meant to be associated with the nautical nature of the seal.

Is this broadside intended to equate the service of naval seamen with that of the Continental soldiers? Is this image meant to depict a marine? What do you think?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vuë de Boston, 1770's

"Vuë de Boston," Francis Xaver Habermann, 1770's, Library of Congress.

As I have said before, Habermann is not the most reliable source for sailor's dress in the American colonies. He is a German artist who creates his works from a strictly European perspective. The geography, architecture, and dress of the figures all betray this. Still, any attempt at an exhaustive study of primary source images portraying common sailor's clothing needs to includes the outliers as well as the more trustworthy sources.

Today's print is part of the "Collection of Prospects" by Habermann, portraying famous cities in North America, including New York, Quebec, and (in this case) Boston.

At the far left of the frame is a large warship with a barge alongside. Aboard the barge is a sailor in a single breasted short jacket without pockets or collar, but there is too little detail to say anything about the cuffs. His cocked hat is wide with the point forward, and he wears a bright green pair of breeches with white stockings.

Three tars on the ship work at the lines about the mainmast, but ignore the uncoiled line on the poop deck. They all wear round hats and jackets, two in green, one in red.

Mixed with soldiers, larborers work ashore with a variety of cargoes. If not for the fact that the men at the boxes and barrels matched the clothing of the oarsman in the background, I might have categorized them as dockworkers rather than sailors. to be fair, they may still be dockworkers. I have not yet looked deeply enough into the distinctions of labor (or lack thereof) to be sure. I can say that sailors returning home from merchantmen were expected to unload the cargo before they were paid. But whether they were assisted by dockworkers or could transition into dockworkers themselves and back again, I cannot say for certain. Anyone out there with information on the classes of maritime labor, feel free to comment below!

In any case, the two men at the cargo and the oarsman all wear red waistcoats and green breeches. Two of them wear matching green workcaps. Interestingly, the two men at the cargo wear neither shoes nor stockings. While I expected to see this much more often when I began my exploration of sailor's clothing, this is the first time I have really noticed it in a primary source image. This begs the question: How often did sailors go barefoot? Was it as common as we think, and simply not represented in art? Was it perhaps less common than we imagine?

At the bow of the boat in the background is our final subject. He wears a black knit cap, workcap, or round hat, and white trousers. Looking a bit more closely, we can see his sleeves are rolled up well above the elbow. Though colored the same blue as his torso, the original engraving appears to have him in a waistcoat and shirtsleeves. It is not uncommon to see the original intent of the engraver changed by that of the colorist.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Arrival of the Princess Charlotte at Harwich, 1761

The Arrival of the Princess Charlotte at Harwich, John Cleveley the Elder, 1761, Peabody Essex Museum.

I want to extend a special thanks to reader Sarah O'Conner! On a recent visit to the Peabody Essex Museum, she spotted this piece and was kind enough to photograph it for this blog.

Cleveley's piece depicts the arrival of the future wife of King George III at Harwich. The royal wedding was a grand occasion. I have addressed the event briefly with the work of Dominic Serres. Perhaps Serres was capturing the view from a more distant shore, or maybe Cleveley thought a much more grandiose piece would better capture the importance of the moment. Either way, we have two very different views of the arrival.

Here's what the Peabody Essex Museum has to say about the piece:

Starting on the left of the frame and working our way right, it is immediately obvious why this piece is so special.

Working one of the large Festival of Sail events that circle the continent, I've seen sailors standing across the yards a few times. The Mexican Navy tall ship Cuauhtemoc sticks out the most in my mind. What Cleveley shows here far surpasses anything I've seen. Scores of sailors standing on the yards of ships across the harbor! 

Both vessels in the detail above also have sailors standing across the bowsprits. The forward most guns on both starboard and larboard fire a greeting to the arriving princess. All of their sailors wave cocked and round hats. Though blue jackets are the majority, we also see red, grey, green, and plenty of shades in between. There is also an even mix between petticoat trousers and breeches. Breeches without the protection of petticoat trousers may be an indication of the importance of this event, with sailors turning out in their best slop clothes.

Abeam and astern of the brig (or possibly ketch), a number of boats and barges pull for the shore. In the center is a fairly impressive barge with the Royal Standard fluttering from her bow. It is safe to assume that the princess is aboard this vessel.

Some of these boats, especially those clustered most closely to Charlotte's barge, are manned by oarsmen in white shirts with black jockey style caps. Others have oarsmen in jackets of a variety of colors wearing cocked hats and at least one bright red knit cap.

Jutting out from the fully rigged ship at the center of this detail is a bright red staircase; nothing less would befit the future queen! Atop the mainpeak is another Royal Standard, indicating that it was this vessel that ferried Charlotte to England. Across her yards and deck is a company entirely decked out in red jackets and breeches, save for the officers in blue. At first I thought the red uniforms was only the marines, but given the relatively short length of their jackets, and the fact that several of them seem to be absent waistcoats, I think this may be the ship's company turned out in a fine set of slop clothes for the occasion. Perhaps the captain chose to outfit his men in matching clothes to distinguish them from the rest of the fleet at Harwich?

The rest of the ships and their men are much the same: breeches, petticoat trousers, a hint or two of trousers, cocked hats, round hats, and a variety of colored jackets. All of the ships are firing salutes from their forward most guns both larboard and starboard, except the one at the center of this detail. It may be out of consideration for the barge to her starboard, but she only fires a gun to leeward.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Knowing One taken in, c.1760

"The Knowing One taken in," artist unknown, c.1760, Walpole Library.

Jack Tar is being taken in by a woman of ill-repute. This is not the first nor the last time this will befall a hapless sailor. As he leans in for a kiss, she lifts his purse to make a tidy profit.

Jack wears a rather nice set of slop clothes for his shore leave. An untrimmed black cocked hat, worn reversed, is nearly tipping off the white locks of his bob wig.

His dark blue jacket with its cloth covered buttons sports a collar. Beyond that, we can see a neatly tied and clean white neckcloth. Judging by the white peeking out from behind the lapel of his jacket, we can safely assume he wears no waistcoat. At the small of his back is a button topping the vent of his jacket, and in line with that is a long flap pocket that runs along his waist.

A close look at the mariner's cuffs (complete with matching blue cloth covered buttons) reveals a detail we've seen before: a white strip of fabric running across the open cuff. Perplexed as I was by this, I turned to an expert: Neal Hurst. Neal is a Colonial Williamsburg trained tailor, a research fellow at Winterthur, and an all around 18th century clothing guru.

When I showed him the above detail, Neal remarked "I have only ever seen this in Banyans before. They are like half sleeves that start just below the elbow and then end at the wrist." He went on to theorize, as I also suspect, that this may have been to protect the shirt beneath from the tar and grime that comes along with shipboard work.

Considering the sailor's fad of leaving the cuffs of their jackets open, this seems to be a solid theory.

Neal mentioned that "there is also a hunting suit at Febreig Hall in Norfolk UK with false sleeves in the interiors," but that "I've seen it on maybe three garments. You see true false sleeves in the nineteenth century."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The late Bombardment of Government Castle, 1782

"The late Bombardment of Government Castle," J. Burrow, 1782, Walpole Library.

Words become bombs in Burrow's political cartoon. The government in the castle declares that they did their best in America, and that the opposition had ruined their attempts to end the rebellion. Meanwhile, the opposition lobs accusations of the destruction of English liberties and the cost of the unnecessary war.

Among the crowd cheering the opposition is a single sailor, waving his cocked hat and shouting "Success Boys to the Fox Bombardment," referring to the leading opposition politician Charles James Fox.

Our Jack wears a cocked hat with a rather high brim. His neckcloth is plain and appears just over his right shoulder, and beneath the shoulder length locks of his loose hair. A triple vented jacket, with a button above at least the right vent, hangs down over his trousers that end at the ankle. Plain stockings run into black shoes with rectangular buckles.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The roasted exciseman, or, The Jack Boots exit, 1763

"The roasted exciseman, or, The Jack Boots exit," E. Sumpter, 1763, Walpole Library.

Once again, a 1760's political cartoon takes a stab at Jacobites (or, more accurately, political opponents painted as Jacobites) in the waning days of the Seven Years War. In this case, the exciseman is burned in effigy as both a Highland Scot and Satan. At the head of the unruly mob is a sailor who hauls the effigy aloft over the flames.

Though I am mostly ignorant of the context for this piece, my guess would be that it is an anti-1763 Treaty of Paris piece. Among the fuel for the flames is "Florida Turf." The Florida peninsula was ceded to Britain in exchange for more monetarily valuable Caribbean territory, which fanned the flames of opposition to the peace.

The sailor appears to be wearing his hat backward, though it could just as easily be interpreted as having its point forward. Either way, he wears a jacket that ends just below the waist, with slit cuffs. His lower garment is somewhere between a pair of trousers and petticoat trousers, blurring the line between them; they end about the top of the calf. His stockings are white, and his hair worn like a bob wig.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Merit Rewarded, 1761

"Merit rewarded, or, Truth triumphant against the reapers being a most beautiful contrast engraved printed and published according to the act by Jack Britton at the Sign of Poor Honesty, right facing Justice Hall, void of the salmon," J. Britton, 1761, Walpole Library.

Even for eighteenth century political cartoons, this one is overcrowded and confusing. 

Pitt the Elder has just retired, and his portrait is being carried aloft by a pair of angels. Satan (or one of his demons) floats over the head of the King, gloating at Pitt's departure, and spilling cash as he vows to reap more of the harvest created by the Seven Years War. The King himself appears amiable enough, bearing a parchment vowing 3,000 pounds per annum in recognition of Pitt's service. 

Among the scattered figures, there are a couple of sailors.

Gathered around the table, and oblivious to the celestial debate taking place above them, a mess of sailors lament the departure of their "captain." 

Standing on the right is a tar in an aggressive pose, replying to a chap so poorly drawn I can say nothing about him. The sailor we can make out wears a small cocked hat with the point forward, a jacket with what appear to be turn back cuffs, and either close fitting trousers or breeches and stockings. We might be able to say more if not for the word bubble blocking our view. 

At the table to the right are four tarpawlins, all of whom wear jacket that end well below the waist, trousers that end above the ankle, and plain neckcloths. One wears a cocked hat with the point backward, another a round hat with short brim (or perhaps a knit cap), and yet another with a tall crowned knit cap that almost looks like a caricatured Spaniard's cocked hat with feather. They are happily puffing away at their pipes, and at least one medicates with a tall tankard.

Perhaps just to fill the blank space beside his lengthy diatribe, Bitton included a sketch of a sailor shouting from the stern of a warship:

All I can make out from the scrawl in his word bubble is "Hollo messmates Damn me." The sentence continues, and if any of you can transcribe it, I'd be grateful! Don't forget that you can click on images to enlarge them.

Regardless, he wears a single breasted waistcoat, and wears his curly hair at shoulder length. Lifting aloft a cocked hat, knit cap, or a hastily scribbled blob of some other sort, his shirt sleeve reveals its typically narrow cuff. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The St-te Quack, 1763

"The St-te Quack," E. Sumpter, 1763, Lewis Walpole Library.

In the midst of this chaotic political cartoon, Jack Tar raises his stick to strike at a Jacobite. While I confess myself ignorant of the subject matter this cartoon deals with, there is a hint in the words of our intrepid sailor: "his d-d Drugs have almost poisond H-ke & me." This is certainly referring to Admiral Edward Hawke, who proved himself in the naval operations of the French and Indian War.

Wearing his cocked hat backward (or point forward, depending on your perspective) this tarpawlin hold his stick over his head, ready to strike a blow. His short hair is curled like a bob wig, and a light colored, plain neckcloth hangs down over his single breasted jacket. With slit pockets at the waist and slit cuffs, the jacket ends just above the top of his thigh. Loose and baggy trousers end above his ankles, revealing white stockings and pointed toe shoes with tall heels and rectangular buckles.

Friday, March 6, 2015

An English Ship Comes to Robinson Crusoe Island, 1778

"An English Ship comes to Robinson Crusoe Island.," engraved by J. Lodge, 1778, John Carter Brown Library.

Lodge, the engraver of this plate for a 1778 edition of Swift's novel Robinson Crusoe, clearly does not possess the same skill as Carrington Bowles' prints of the same story. This scene appears late in the story, when an English ship arrives at the island. Its crew has mutinied, and seeks to maroon their captain on the island.

Two of the crewmen work the lines aboard the ship while the rest of their mates head ashore. They wear single breasted jackets that are longer than are common for eighteenth century sailors, perhaps a nod to the setting of the story: 1689. Their hats also have unusually tall crowns and short upturned brims. My guess would be that these are dutch caps. The sailor farther aft of the main wears a close fitting pair of trousers.

This boat is loaded with ten men, matching the number Crusoe describes as rowing ashore wehn their first boat, bearing the captain and loyal crewmen as prisoners, failed to return. The coxswain wears a short cocked hat, or perhaps a japanned leather round hat. The rest of the men wear a variety of headwear that could be dutch caps and round hats.

Ashore, Crusoe bears a sword over the mutineers and freed sailors. Just offshore we can see the vague outline of a boat, one that the captain and Crusoe scuttled to prevent the muniteers from escaping back to the ship and returning in force.

Crusoe is looking a bit ragged in his hat, single breasted jacket, breeches, and stockings. The others wear jackets of similar length, breeches and stockings, Only one of them wears a hat, which is an odd sort of fur or thrum cap.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A View of the Entrance of the Harbour of the Havana, taken from within the Wrecks, 1768

"A View of the Entrance of the Harbour of the Havana, taken from within the Wrecks," Elias Durnford, 1768, John Carter Brown Library.

The capture of Havana during the Seven Years War was a major victory for the British in the West Indies. It deprived the Spanish of a key port in the Caribbean, and in turn gave that advantage to the Royal Navy. Diplomatically, it was a key factor in the negotiations around the Treaty of Paris that ended the conflict.

The seizure of the port was represented in patriotic art, which we've touched on before. Durnford's drawing, which we see in the Peter Canot engraving above, was sold a full half decade after Havana was returned to the Spanish, and so demonstrates the power this victory had with the British public.

Under an umbrella two gentlemen, possibly officers, are rowed across the harbor. Their coxswain wears either a knit cap or a very short brimmed round hat, a jacket that ends at the waist, and a pair of trousers. All of the oarsmen wear round hats with wide brims, save the foremost jack, who wears a cocked hat with the point forward. 

Just beyond them is a small sloop with a crew of three. They all wear rounds hats, jackets that end about the waist, and trousers. Before them is a man of war being towed out between the wrecks in the harbor, carefully maneuvered around the debris.

Rowing toward the man of war is yet another boat, the crew of which are also in jackets and round hats.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Ship Running into Harbour with Other Craft at a Jetty, 1788

"A Ship Running into Harbour with Other Craft at a Jetty," Thomas Whitcombe, 1788, Yale Center for British Art.

A sloop sails into the titular harbor under a strong wind. The ominous clouds above and the choppy green sea may foreshadow a storm. 

The crew of the sloop are clustered abaft, away from the spray that must be coming up over the bow. We can make out five sailors, all of whom wear round hats with various lengths to their brim. Two wear blue jackets, and two either brown or red. Another fellow, a passenger or ship's captain, wears a red coat with a broad black cocked hat, and appears to wear his hair in a queue.

Rowing out of the harbor, and under the watchful eyes of a small crowd gathered at the ramparts above, three hearty tars make their way over the foam. Like the tarpawlins on the sloop, the oarsmen and coxswain wear blue jackets, and one wears a red or brown jacket. They also wear round hats.

Standing in the tops of a brig is another brave soul, soon to be joined by another working his way up the mainshrouds. Both of them wear blue jackets and round hats, with the jack in the shrouds wearing a plain pair of trousers.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Two Boats with Crews, Study for The Royal William at Sea, c.1765

"Two Boats with Crews, Study for The Royal William at Sea," Samuel Scott, c.1765, Yale Center for British Art.

Samuel Scott, the renowned marine artist, painted the Royal William around 1765. This was later deemed by one art historian as one of "the finest marines by Scott in existence." The original was sold at auction in 2007 for £34,100 ($70,665).

The Yale Center for British art has one of the studies made by Samuel Scott for his masterpiece. Originally attributed to the French-English artist Dominic Serres, some past archivist or curator went so far as to write Serres' name on the back of the original. This was then scratched out by a subsequent scholar. Both have left their marks on a two century old artifact for future students of British art to shake their heads at.

Scott's study features two boats alongside each other, but bearing in opposite directions. We'll start at the bow of the boat in the foreground, her bow pointed to the left.

All of the tarpawlins wear single breasted jackets, but sitting as they are it is difficult to say whether they wear breeches, petticoat trousers, or trousers. Certainly bar caps are the most common among them. The furthest oarsman forward (sitting aft of the man with the boathook) may be wearing a knit cap: it sits further up his head with a taller and less symmetrical crown. The sailors on the boat to their starboard stand and work amongst the officers and passengers in their stern. These tars wear cocked hats: one with the point forward, one with the point back.

Of the two standing sailors in the boat to the background, one bends toward the stern, allowing us to see that he wears either trousers or petticoat trousers.

At the stern of the boat int he foreground we see one oarsman in a cocked hat with the point forward over his right eye. The cox, abaft the two officers, also wears a cocked hat, but of an extremely small nature, even smaller than most sailors' hats. Either that, or it is a barge cap of highly unusual cut. What do you think?

The details on the crew of the boat to the background get a bit sketchy. It is a scene of controlled chaos, with oarsmen keeping the boat in place while the man in the bow grips a line. That tar in the bow wears a short jacket that ends at the waist, baggy trousers, and another odd hat: perhaps the tiny cocked hat we see on the cox in the foreground. His mates wear a mishmash of cocked hats and barge caps of the jockey style.