Monday, November 16, 2015

Mr. Beard and Miss Brent in Thomas and Sally, c.1760

© Victoria and Albert Museum

"Mr. Beard and Miss Brent in Thomas and Sally," J. June after Louis Philippe Boitard, c.1765, Victoria and Albert Museum.

What we have here is a watch paper. These could be purchased from print shops (like the Hogarth's Head) and inserted into watch cases to protect against dust. Our example today is a copy of one engraved by Louis Philippe Boitard.

There is some disagreement over when this piece was made. The Victoria and Albert Museum curators date it to circa 1770, while the British Museum dates it to circa 1760. This date is also agreed to by the authors of the British Museum exhibition catalog London 1753, who attribute it to Louis Philippe Boitard.

John Smith sold this print at Hogarth's Head in Cheapside, where he was advertising printed goods for sale certainly as early as 1759. Mr. Beard, who plays the sailor Thomas in this piece, went deaf in 1767, and was forced to retire from his career of singing. That same year, the original engraver Boitard died. Add to this that the play itself was performed in 1760, and it would appear that the British Museum is closer to the date on this piece.

Having said that, the comic opera that is "Thomas and Sally" was a fairly popular one. Certainly they were still producing prints in 1770.

© Victoria and Albert Museum

Mr. Beard's costume consists of a cocked hat worn reverse with just the suggestion of white tape around the brim. Thomas wears a sailor's bob style hair or wig. His jacket is a sort of greenish blue, with brass buttons, underneath which is a yellow single breasted waistcoat with cloth covered buttons. At his neck is a red neckcloth. White slops/petticoat trousers are hanging down over white breeches (of which we only get the slightest peek at one knee). In his left hand is the ever present sailor's stick.

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