Monday, October 26, 2015
"King James Embarks in a Frigate for France," Samuel Wale, 1747, British Museum.
The above copperplate was printed for the book "A New History of England by Question and Answer," and depicts the flight of King James II. This is a much earlier event than our period of study, probably representing the deposed monarch's first escape in 1690 in the wake of the Glorious Revolution. Interestingly, the artist has made no attempt to pre-date the clothing worn by any of the figures depicted here. This is doubly true of the sailors, who look very much like sailors of the 1740's.
The tars wear plain cocked hats with short brims, point forward. Their jackets end about the top of the thigh with one rear vent, and an additional vent on each side. Our mariners' trousers reach to just above the ankle, where they wear plain white stockings.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
The Humours of a Wapping Landlady, publisher unknown, 1743, British Museum.
The Wapping Landlady, engraved from the Original Painting in Vaux Hall Gardens, published by Carrington Bowles, 1743, British Museum.
The Wapping Landlady, engraved by L. Truchy, 1767, New York Public Library.
All of these prints are derived from the same inspiration: Francis Hayman's painting. The Victoria and Albert Museum possesses a detail of the original, but it does not include the dancing sailor, bar, or other participants at this jolly gathering. The original painting hung in Vauxhall Gardens, and is described in the 1782 tourists' guide The Ambulator as "The Wapping landlady, and the tars who are just come ashore."
Wapping is a well known maritime community in east London along the River Thames in which sailors came and went throughout the eighteenth century. Some ne'er-do-well mariners met their end at Wapping's famous Execution Dock.
Having "just come ashore," a mess of sailors enjoy themselves in the landlady's common room. According to the caption text on "The Humours of a Wapping Landlady" the fellow reclining across a bench beside a well dressed woman is Jack Bowline, who courts the landlady's daughter. At center is the dancing Tom Gunter, who has asked the fiddler to "strike up a hornpipe." Standing in a well chosen spot between the fiddler and the bar is the cabin boy Oakum. It is at the bar behind him we find the old landlady, who plies the tarpawlins with liquor so that she can take their hard earned pay.
Tom Gunter wears a simple black cocked hat reversed. His hair is short, hanging well above the shoulders. Tom's unlined single breasted jacket stretches to the top of his thighs. Though we get no good view of his buttons, the jacket is without pockets or collar. It does not appear that the cuffs have any buttons.
Tom's waistcoat has vertical narrow stripes and a single row of buttons. The cutaway of Tom's waistcoat is open just enough to let us see the two button fly at his waistband. His trousers end above the ankle, revealing light colored stockings. His shoes have a rounded toe. Tom has tucked his hooked walking stick under his left arm.
The Bowles version is somewhat more detailed. Tom's hat is looking rather worse for wear, and his neckstock is a bit more easily seen, tucked into his waistcoat though it may be. Otherwise, the details of his slop clothes are essentially the same: single breasted jacket without cuffs, trousers with a two button fly at the waistband, and a hooked walking stick (albeit under the right arm this time).
The New York Public Library's copy of The Wapping Landlady looks to have been lifted directly from the Bowles' print. The only major differences are Tom's hat (which has somewhat smoother lines) and walking stick (along which the knobs are more bulbous.
|© Victoria and Albert Museum, London|
In the original painting, the sailor is depicted with red breeches, white stockings, and black round toed shoes with decorative yellow metal buckles. He wears a single breasted white waistcoat with cloth covered buttons, but no neck cloth. His brown jacket is likewise single breasted with cloth covered buttons, and a mariner's cuff with all but one button fastened. His hair is just about should length beneath a cocked hat with remarkably short brim.
On the table beside him rests a large tankard, punch bowl, and pipe.
Interestingly, the prints that followed Hayman's original shows the clothing of the landlady's daughter continually updated by the engraver to keep pace with modern fashion.
|British Museum, Version One|
|British Museum, Bowles Version|
With the exception of Jack Bowline's hat, his outfit remains relatively unchanged over two and a half decades. A black cocked hat with the point forward, a single breasted jacket ending about the top of the thigh with open mariner's cuffs, breeches bound below the knee by a buckle. The original painting puts Jack Bowline in red breeches, white stockings, a black cocked hat with remarkably short brim, white waistcoat without neckcloth of any sort, and a brown jacket.
|British Museum, unknown publisher|
|British Museum, Carrington Bowles|
|New York Public Library|
Oakum the cabin boy is the most consistently depicted figure in each of the prints. He wears a work cap with horizontal stripes, a loose fitting single breasted striped jacket, and long trousers. Oakum's hair is even shorter than this mates, clinging close to his head.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
View of Charlotte Sound in New Zealand, John Cleveley, 1788, British Museum.
Part of the Cleveley series "Views of the South Seas," this print carries across the sight of New Zealand to an audience newly aware of the riches that awaited the British empire in the Pacific. These were lands first brought to the attention of the British by Captain Cook on his famous voyages around the world. With the American Revolutionary War concluded, and the French Revolutionary Wars yet to come, the Royal Navy and the British people could take come time to explore, settle, and exploit the Pacific.
There is a small party of men ashore. An officer with a sword at his belt gestured toward gathered Maori, and they are all surrounded by jacks. Doffing his round hat to the officer is a sailor in loose fitting trousers that run down to his ankles, and a triple vented jacket that ends above the top of his thigh. Working at a sail to the left of him are two men in the same slop clothes.
On the rock to the right of the Maori is a well turned out tar. His round hat has a narrow brim, and a black neckcloth can just be made out over his jacket. His trousers are striped, and stockings plain white.
Standing in the background at the bow of a pinnace are a pair of sailors in round hats with short jackets. One wears a pair of plain trousers, the other a pair of petticoat trousers/slops that end at the top of the calf.
Friday, October 23, 2015
The Grosvenor East Indiaman, Capt Coxon commander wrecked Augst 4th 1782, on that part of the Eastern coast of Africa, inhabited by the Gaffrees, Robert Pollard, 1784, National Maritime Museum.
Grosvenor, an East Indiaman with 150 crew and passengers all told, struck onto the rocks of the Pondoland coast in South Africa early on the morning of August 4, 1782. Poor visibility and inaccurate navigation damned the ship. Despite their luck and a wretched morning of hauling themselves to safety by a line secured to the shore, most of the passengers and crew survived. Luck was not with the survivors, many of whom were killed by the arduous trek to Cape Town, or by the violence of locals. In the end, only eighteenth people reached safety. Of these, only three made it back to England.
Pollard does his best to convey the distress of the passengers and crew.
Mixed among the ladies in unbelievably white dresses, officers in frocks and cocked hats, and Indians in a variety of dress, are sailors clinging to the hull of the overturned and shattered Grosvenor. At the far left of the frame is a man in trousers, a short jacket that ends below the waist, and a round hat with an oval crown. Further to the center is a gentleman clutching a sailors, who holds to the hull for the both of them. This sailor wears a dark round hat with short brim, dark jacket, and a pair of petticoat trousers/slops.
Ashore are a few more sailors. They also wear jackets and petticoat trousers/slops, but are largely hatless. The survivors stand amongst a collection of Bantu natives, the very people that they would fail so spectacularly to get along with on their 400 mile journey to Cape Town.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Preservation of Cpt Inglefield, the Master, and Ten of the Crew of the Centaur in the Pinnace, Robert Pollard, 1784, National Maritime Museum.
The 74 gun Centaur was a French ship of line launched in 1757. Along with two other ships of the line, she was captured by the British two years later at the Battle of Lagos, one of the key events in the Annus Mirabilis of 1759 that is still celebrated in the first verse of "Heart of Oak."
That same year, John Nicholson Inglefield joined the Royal Navy and steadily rose through the ranks. Inglefield and the Centaur came together in 1781 when Inglefield was given command of the ship by Admiral Hood. Inglefield guided the ship and her crew against the French in the waning days of the American Revolutionary War, and fought at the Battle of the Saintes.
On returning to England in convoy in 1782, the Centaur was caught in a hurricane. Reduced to little more than a rudderless, mastless, and aging hulk, she began to founder. Hundreds of crewmen went down with her, but the captain and a handful of men managed to board the ship's pinnace. Without any navigational equipment, they managed to steer her to the Azores and safety. All told, the survivors spent sixteen days on the pinnace with almost no food or water.
At the tiller is a dejected looking fellow, helped by a man in frock, waistcoat, and breeches. This might be a midshipman who threw himself from the deck of the ship and into the pinnace just as she was pulling away.
The sailors are largely unremarkable. The coxswain wears a close fitting knit cap, and a dark jacket. The others wear the same style of jacket. Grasping his mate (who in turn clings to the larboard rail), another jack wears a knit cap and petticoat trousers/slops. To the port is a man with a wider brimmed round hat, and another with bob style hair.
Standing amidships and holding a line to the pinnace's tattered sail, Captain Inglefield gestures to his men while stealing a glance back to his sinking ship. Most of the men around him are hatless, but a couple do wear knit caps. The oarsman appears to be in shirtsleeves, but the remaining tars are lucky enough to have jackets. The two men at the bow both wear petticoat trousers/slops.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
"Sweet Poll of Plymouth," Thomas Macklin, George Shepheard, Henry William Bunbury, 1790, National Maritime Museum.
Sweet Poll is a wicked looking prostitute drawing the attention of two tarpawlins and a creepy looking marine. The colorist of this print has done a fairly good job with the shading and careful application of color, except on the marine whose cartridge box blends into his small clothes, and cuffs fail to match the lapels.
This print is at the very tail end of our period of examination, and so the sailors look markedly different from those of earlier decades. Notably, both wear straw hats. I know of only one other depiction of sailors from our period of study that clearly and definitely shows a straw hat, and even that source I had to question. This is the first positive and definitive depiction of straw hats being worn by sailors in my period of study, and it comes at the very last year of that period.
Our first jack wears a wide brimmed straw hat, and has his hair bound in a queue (another change from previous decades in which short, bob-style hair was the most common). A blue jacket ending just below the waist and with folded back cuffs rests over a double breasted white jacket with cloth covered buttons. His trousers are white and end at the ankle, showing off pointed toe shoes with rectangular buckles.
His mate wears a straw hat with a shorter brim, and short hair. It appears his hair is without a queue, but not definitely so. A short lack neckcloth hangs over his waistcoat with its horizontal red stripes and cloth covered buttons. The blue jacket is single breasted with cloth covered buttons and an odd folded back cuff that also appears to be a double buttoned mariner's cuff. His trousers are slightly longer than his mates, but still show the same shoes and buckles.
For posterity, here's Sweet Poll in all her glory:
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
A view of the procession of John Swan and Elizabeth Jefferies, Bispham Dickinson, c.1752, British Museum.
The case of Elizabeth Jefferies and John Swan brings us pretty far from the Wooden World that is our usual focus. According to a tale related in the Newgate Calendar, John was Elizabeth's lover and an employee of Mr. Jefferies. The pair found out that Elizabeth's wealthy uncle planned to write her out of his will, and so attempted to pay off another employee to shoot Mr. Jefferies on their behalf. Though he initially agreed, the would be murderer backed out of the plan, despite the threats of John and Elizabeth to murder him as well. Undeterred, John shot Mr. Jefferies himself. Their plan almost worked, until the man they had hired to kill Elizabeth's uncle was caught and confessed to initially being part of the plot. Both Elizabeth and John were hanged on March 28, 1752.
Dickinson depicts the lovers being hauled away to the gallows in the print above. They are accompanied by a huge and diverse crowd of men, women, and children. Several professions can be made out in the crowd, including one sailor in the lower left corner of the frame.
Arm in arm with a woman, our sailor strides alongside the sled that carried John Shaw to his doom. Our tar tears a rocked hat with a remarkably short brim over a bob wig. A white neckcloth is tossed over his left shoulder. His jacket runs down to just above his thighs, and a pair of petticoat trousers/slops hang down to about the middle of his calf. Pointed toe shoes and a walking stick complete his outfit.
Monday, October 19, 2015
A View of the Church of Notre Dame de la Victoire, built in Commemoration of the raising the Siege in 1695 and destroyed in 1759, Richard Short, engraved by A. Bennoist, 1761, University of Michigan Celements Library.
Thanks to longtime reading Adam Hodges-LeClaire for pointing out this print to me!
The city of Quebec was long the target of British ambitions. Numerous battles and sieges centered around Quebec, going back to the seventeenth century. In 1690, the French broke one of these sieges and in celebration rechristened the church l'Enfant Jésus as Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. Construction on this church began in 1687, but wasn't completed until 1723.
Though the next few decades the town weathered British attacks, but finally fell after the famous Battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. During the long siege leading up to the Plains of Abraham, the British reduced much of the town. Short, in the print above, depicts British military tourists taking in the sight of the lower town.
Short's centerpiece for this destruction is the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. His choice of the church demonstrates British redemption, the power of British artillery, and the well known anti-Catholicism of Georgian Britain.
Among the grenadiers, soldiers, and civilians touring the ruins of the Quebec's lower town are a number of tarpawlins.
At the lower right corner of the frame are a pair of sailors observing the wreckage. The chap on the left wears a narrow brimmed round hat with round crown over his short hair. His blue jacket has a single vent at the back, and rests over his blueish-white petticoat trousers/slops. Beneath them are a pair of black stockings (or white stockings shaded by the engraver or colorist).
His mate on the right wears a cocked hat with the point forward over bob-style hair. His brown jacket also has a single vent at the back, This seaman's petticoat trousers/slops are the same length as his mate's: just about the knee, but they are a sort of greenish-blue.
Unfortunately, the detail on the figures close to the church are sparse. Their hats are almost impossible to make out, and the most we can say beyond color (blues, browns, and white) is that they wear jackets that end above the top of the thigh, and petticoat trousers/slops that end about the knee. We can also say that they carry walking sticks.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
The South East Prospect of London from the Tower to London Bridge, John Maurer, 1746, Royal Collection Trust.
I am sure it is no surprise to you that London has changed a lot since 1746. Thanks to the wonders of Google Maps, we can see precisely how much it has changed. Follow this link to see almost precisely the same view as the artist had, with the Tower to the right, and London Bridge to the left.
The Tower of London is the notorious castle and prison of the English monarchs. Portions of the Tower have withstood the test of time all the way from the eleventh century. In the eighteenth century, it held such prominent persons as American congressman Henry Laurens and Sir Robert Walpole.
|Simon Lord Lovat, William Hogarth, 1746, Wikimedia Commons|
Aboard a sloop, three tars play at the lines. Furthest astern is a man in a workcap or hatless, his shirt or jacket tucked into plain trousers. At the mast is a tarpawlin in a short brimmed round hat with a dark jacket that ends at his waist, and either slops/petticoat trousers or plain trousers. We can more confidently say that the mariner further forward is wearing plain and close fitting trousers. His hat appears to be a cocked hat, and his dark jacket ends just below the waist.
Downriver and under sail is another sloop, this one manned by four crewmen. At the tiller is a man in what appears to be a frock coat and cocked hat, so perhaps the captain. Amidships and at the bow are three non-descript sailors in jackets that end at the waist and trousers or petticoat trousers/slops.
Monday, October 5, 2015
'Humours of an Irish Wake,' unknown artist, 1770, Lewis Walpole Library.
Yale University's Lewis Walpole Library has many, many original images of the eighteenth and nineteenth century that have been digitized in high resolution for the free perusal of the public. It is a gargantuan project, and one that is not yet complete. Not all of their images have catalog entries freely available as yet, so this print is not accompanied by an artist, engraver, or date.
Thankfully, the HathiTrust Digital Library has exactly the reference we need to solidly date this piece. A fully digitized collection of the Gentlemans Museum & Grand Imperial Magazine contains an article detailing an Irish wake, explaining all of the characters we see here and even helpfully pointing out that there is a copper plate struck for this very story. The original article was published in November 1770.
The Scotch Spy from London, despite his argument that he does not possess "the pen of a Gay or the pencil of a Hogarth," elaborates on the variety of guests at the wake of a hanged felon: soldiers, bailiffs, bawds, artisans and four sailors.
There appears to be but one sailors depicted in the print. Immediately behind him stands a fellow that may well be an artisan, rather than a seaman. Our tar has a short brimmed cocked hat with a narrow point forward. His hair is curled up in a bob style, over a plain neckcloth that hangs down over the back of his jacket. The jacket is single vented. Under his arm is tucked the familiar walking stick. Plain, wide legged trousers run down to his calves. Beneath them are plain stockings and pointed toe shoes. Beside him is a large tankard, probably pewter.