The progress and vicissitudes of an emigrant

Douce collected a large number of prints by the radical satirist Charles Jameson Grant (active 1830-52). His lithograph Emigration: the progress and vicissitudes of an emigrant (1833) is, as Elizabeth Jane Errington explains in her book Emigrant Worlds, a ‘satirical commentary on emigration’ from Britain to America and Canada in the first half of the nineteenth-century:

C. J. Grant, Emigration, 1833, lithograph (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

C. J. Grant, Emigration, 1833, lithograph (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

As the same author points out, the print nevertheless manages to convey the ambivalence felt by many British farmers, labourers, craftspeople, and tradesmen when forced to consider their future abroad due to the apparent lack of prospects at home. The fifteen vignettes illustrate the hardships experienced by these migrants on their way to and during their stay in North America. They might have been an attempt at counteracting government campaigns that promoted the emigration of unemployed workmen, like Castlereagh’s earlier proposal satirized by George Cruikshank in 1819:

satire emigration

George Cruikshank, A strong proof of the flourishing state of the country, 1819, hand-coloured etching © The Trustees of the British Museum   

Posted in Lithography, Prints, Radicals, Satirical prints | 1 Comment

A comic dance

One of the highlights in the career of the actor and pantomimist Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) was his performance in Harlequin and Mother Goose, or, The Golden Egg. The DNB notices how ‘fashionable and influential people, including Byron and Lord Eldon, flocked from all over London to see it’ at Covent Garden in 1806. According to his annotations on the print below, Douce himself was one of them:

Anonymous, The Comic Dance by Mess.rs Bologna & Grimaldi, c. 1806, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Anonymous, The Comic Dance by Mess.rs Bologna & Grimaldi, c. 1806, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Douce thus enthused over the pantomime on the verso:

This truly comical dance was performed in a Pantomime called Harlequin Mother Shipton, or the Golden Egg. It was the very best grotesque dance I ever saw, & was accompanied by an excellent & wonderfully droll Irish tune.

He enjoyed it so much that he also acquired this depiction of Grimaldi in character that captures the ‘almost demonic quality’ of the actor’s performance and his use of household objects as props:

W. O'Keefe, Grimaldi with the Broom & Tin Kettle in Mother Goose, c. 1806, hand-coloured etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

W. O’Keefe, Grimaldi with the Broom & Tin Kettle in Mother Goose, c. 1806, hand-coloured etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

 

Posted in Clowns, Colour, Entertainment, Fools, London, Music, Portraits, Prints, Theatre | Leave a comment

A contemporary printmaker

Douce befriended some of the most celebrated artists of his time and his collections were widely used by them. When Grayson Perry visited the Ashmolean Print Room a few weeks ago, it was great fun to select some of Douce’s prints for him to see:

Grayson Perry in the Ashmolean  © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Grayson Perry at the Ashmolean © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

The prints that Grayson Perry is examining through the magnifying glass above are kept with Douce’s ‘drolls and fanciful vagaries’, which I am cataloguing at the moment. They include this sixteenth-century repertory of ‘typical market day distractions’ by Girolamo Porro:

Girolamo Porro, Le Bararie del Mondo, c. 1600, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Girolamo Porro, Le Bararie del Mondo, c. 1600, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Detail.

And the Theatre of Human Life, in which Fortune appears on a stage distributing roles and costumes to the men and women who thus become kings, queens, merchants, beggars, slaves, fools, scholars, etc. Their performance is, however, ended abruptly by the figure of Death, who disrobes them and pushes them off the stage on the right:

Jérôme David, Theatre de la Vie Humaine, c. 1639-62, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Detail.

Jérôme David, Theatre de la Vie Humaine, c. 1639-62, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Detail.

But my favourite print in the selection is undoubtedly this Cage of Fools, or Gabbia dei Matti, published in Modena by Cristofano Bertelli. The engraving is full of wonderfully odd details, such as the naked woman with a meandering neck (Greed) or the young man whose lifted arms end in storcks’ heads:

Cristofano Bertelli, Gabbia dei Matti, c. 1550-99, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Cristofano Bertelli, Gabbia dei Matti, c. 1550-99, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Detail.

Detail

Detail

 

Posted in Collections and Collectors, Engravings, Everyday life, Fools, History of printmaking, Museums, Prints, Satirical prints | 1 Comment

A print by Cosway

Douce was a friend and executor of the painter Richard Cosway (1742-1821). Many works by him and by his wife Maria can be found among Douce’s prints and drawings -this nymph carrying Cupid on her shoulders is a good example:

Maria Cosway after Richard Cosway, Nymph and Cupid, 1774-1805, etching and aquatint (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Maria Cosway after Richard Cosway, Nymph and Cupid, 1774-1805, etching and aquatint (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

From Douce’s annotation on the verso, we know that he thought that Cosway’s Cupid resembled ‘Reynolds’s Shepherd Boy’ and that he wondered which the original was:

Joshua Reynolds, Piping Shepherd Boy, c. 1788, Oil on canvas,  (National Trust, Antony House, Cornwall  ©National Trust Images/John Hammond)

Joshua Reynolds, Piping Shepherd Boy, c. 1786, Oil on canvas, (Antony House, Cornwall ©National Trust Images/John Hammond)

Moreover, Douce considered that the attitude of the two figures was very similar to that of the mother and child depicted in this scene of the Deluge:

Jan Sadeler I after Maerten de Vos, The story of the family of Seth, 1586, engraving © The Trustees of the British Museum

Jan Sadeler I after Maerten de Vos, The story of the family of Seth, 1586, engraving © The Trustees of the British Museum

Douce found the same motif in the upper right side of another print in his collection: this allegory of The Power of Love by Hieronymus Hopfer which was, as he noted, copied after a ‘Trionfo della Luna’ by the Monogrammist PP in the collection of his friend Mr Dimsdale:

Hieronymus Hopfer, The Power of Love, 1528-63, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Hieronymus Hopfer, The Power of Love, 1528-63, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Cosway’s original source was, however, correctly identified by Douce as a ‘Greek or Roman gem’ reproduced in the second volume of Caylus’s Recueil (plate LXXXIII):

caylus gem

img320

 

Posted in Antiquaries, Antiquities, Aquatint, Collections and Collectors, Engravings, History of printmaking, Paintings, Prints | Leave a comment

Douce’s dream

In a previous post, I referred to Douce’s accounts of his dreams in his Book of Coincidences. In an undated entry probably written in 1817, Douce explained:

I had a strange dream about eating a cross-bow as a broiled fish. The next morning calling at Colnaghi’s his son carried me to see his fine collection of ancient arms, which contained a great number of cross-bows, and I not only had occasion to converse much on this weapon but there was a clever country fellow, a soldier, who told me a great deal about the use of it to which he had been much accustomed.

While going through Douce’s prints of weapons, I came across the image below, which might be the source of this ‘strange dream’:

Anonymous, Cross-bow and fish, 17th century, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Anonymous, Fishing cross-bow, 17th century, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

According to Douce’s notes, reading and leafing through his portfolios were two of his favourite evening occupations -if he looked at the print above before going to sleep, it is not surprising he dreamt of crossbows and fish.

The following year, Dominic Colnaghi’s collection of ancient arms was purchased by Douce’s friend Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick. Many of the pieces that Douce saw at Colnaghi’s are now in the Wallace Collection.

 

Posted in Antiquaries, Collections and Collectors, Everyday life, Networks, Prints, Sports | Leave a comment

Amateur drawings

Among Douce’s drawings in the Ashmolean there are many by amateurs like Francis Cohen (1788-1861). In 1823, Cohen changed his name to Palgrave and married one of Dawson Turner’s daughters, Elizabeth. Douce and Cohen became close friends and they met regularly in the 1810s and 1820s -the fourth son of the Palgraves, born in 1829, received the name of Reginald Francis Douce Palgrave. Cohen gave Douce this watercolour of a street in Brussels, painted during a trip to the Continent in 1815:

Francis Cohen, Hospital of Nuns, Brussels, 1815, watercolour (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Francis Cohen, Hospital of Nuns, Brussels, 1815, watercolour (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Another glimpse into Douce’s network of acquaintances is provided by the little, rather sweet, sketch below:

Louisa Goldsmid, Female head, c. 1830, graphite (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Louisa Goldsmid, Female head, c. 1830, graphite (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

The young amateur to whom Douce’s annotation refers was probably Louisa Sophia Goldsmid (1819-1908), who would grow up to become the ‘feminist and promoter of women’s education’ Lady Goldsmid. Douce could have been given her drawing because it was made in the course of a visit to the Douces. The hatching in the face recalls that of a print, from which eleven-year-old Louisa would have copied it:

Barocci detail

Douce might have met the future Lady Goldsmid through her uncle, the financier Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (1778-1859), fellow of the Royal Society since 1828. As a member of this institution, Sir Isaac was likely to know both Palgrave and another of Douce’s closest and oldest friends, the writer Isaac D’Israeli:

Goodman, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, c. 1866, oil on canvas ((c) UCL Art Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation)

Goodman, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, c. 1866, oil on canvas (c) UCL Art Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Sir Isaac, who became member of the Society of Antiquaries in 1830, was also a collector of coins, ivories, bronzes, and porcelains. In 1843, he was invited to the funeral of the bibliophile Duke of Sussex as one of his ‘personal friends’. Sir Isaac and Douce possibly met at the Duke’s apartments in Kensington Palace, where Douce was a regular visitor after an introduction by the physician Edward Fryer.

Posted in Antiquaries, Collections and Collectors, Drawings, Engravings, Networks, Physicians, Prints, Travel | Leave a comment

Interior design

The drawing below was made by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, an artist renown, among many other things, for getting his props right:

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Deux Chaises de style Louis XIII, 1803-16, graphite © Montauban, musée Ingres, © Service des musées de France, 2010

Like other history painters working in the early decades of the nineteenth century, Ingres would have appreciated Douce’s well-stored repository of images of chairs, bedsteads, tables, bath-tubs, lamps, stoves, etc. Some might have been given to Douce by friends:

Anonymous, Two chairs, c. 1800-34, graphite and watercolour (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

The chair on the left could have been made in the late seventeenth century, since it is very similar to this side chair from Nymans, West Sussex:

English chair, 1690, walnut and cane (Nymans Estate, West Sussex) © National Trust Collections

It is also the type of chair chosen by George Clint (1770-1854) to furnish the room where Mistress Ford waits for Falstaff in this scene from The Merry Wives of Windsor:

George Clint, Falstaff’s Assignation with Mrs Ford, c. 1830-31, oil paint on canvas (Tate Gallery, London)

The two chairs could have been drawn in the course of Douce’s friends’ tours and excursions around Britain: a few drawings of gates and lanterns kept with his prints were, for instance, a gift from the topographical and antiquarian draughtsman William Alexander (1767-1816). Another example is the bed below, which according to Douce’s annotation on the verso, was copied “from a small brass plate on the floor of Hurst church, Berks by J. Hare Esq. 1827″:

J. Hare, Deathbed, 1827, graphite (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Other furniture drawings in Douce’s collection could have been preparatory designs for prints published as part of pattern books, as is probably the case of these eighteenth-century chairs:

Anonymous, Three chairs, c. 1750, pen and ink, with grey wash (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Posted in Antiquaries, Drawings, Everyday life, Fashion, Furniture, Networks, Paintings, Romanticism | Leave a comment

Grinding fools

Many of Douce’s prints of fools are emblems from Dutch and German books, like the etching below:

Anonymous, Quale granum talis et farina, c. 1577-1627, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

The scene is set in a watermill, where an elegantly dressed man is startled at the sight of batches of little fools being ground by two millers. The print was published in Cologne by Johann Bussemacher. Douce wrote on the verso that he had got if from Coram in April 1816. However, the entries for that month in the Collecta only refer to one print purchased from Coram, which Douce describes as ‘A print after O. Vaenius by Gisb. Vaenius. Allegorical’.

The inscription in Latin on the top left corner reads: “Quale granum talis et [sic] farina” (“From such wheat, such flour”). We have a similar saying in Spanish (“From such flour, such bread”), but here the source is, of course, the biblical proverb “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him” (Proverbs 27:22).

Posted in Books, Emblems, Fools, Prints, Satirical prints, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We are five

I have just started cataloguing Douce’s prints of fools -the engraving below belongs to the popular type depicting a group of foolish figures that numbers one fewer than the title, so that the viewer makes up the total:

Anonymous, Nous sommes cinq, 17th century, engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

On the mount, Douce wrote that it was given to him at Paris ‘by the worthy Abbé Tersan’, probably in the course of a trip that took place between August and September 1817.  Charles-Philippe Campion de Tersan (1736-1819) was an antiquary born in Marseille and a renowned collector: by 1818, his was regarded as ‘the most singular and most copious’ of ‘all the collections of antiquities called Roman and Greek’ that could be seen in Paris (Stephen Weston, La Scava, London, 1818, p. iv).

Tersan collected antiquities, maps, prints, Indian and Chinese curiosities, and medals, most of which were sold in 1819. This depiction of the “Gemma Tiberiana” by Rubens, which came to the Ashmolean in 1989, was among them:

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, The ‘Apotheosis of Germanicus’: copy after an antique Cameo ( The ‘Gemma Tiberiana’), 1626, oil on canvas (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Many of Tersan’s prints, however, ended up in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Douce might have been introduced to him by either Charles Townley (1737-1805) or Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824) -the latter bought some of Tersan’s Italian drawings in 1791. The entry on the Abbé that appeared in the Biographie universelle (1826) explained how he ‘compared antiquities from different peoples and he used the objects in his collections to clarify certain passages in the works of ancient authors and of modern travellers’ -and this is, of course, very similar to what Douce did with his own prints.

 

Posted in Antiquaries, Collections and Collectors, Engravings, Fools, Networks, Paintings, Popular prints, Prints, Satirical prints | Leave a comment

The Juggernaut Debt

In 1832, The Ballot published a series of “Sketches in Church and State”. The proofs for the anonymous wood-engravings can be found among the satirical prints that the British Museum purchased from the estate of Douce’s friend Edward Hawkins. As it is often the case with Hawkins’s satires, Douce’s smaller but very similar collection of satirical prints included a set of the same images. They were later reprinted as a single sheet from which he cut them, together with the heading and with the publication details at the bottom of the page:

Two prints seem to be missing from Hawkins’s set of proofs -the first is this Juggernaut Debt, which (according to M.D. George) depicts the national debt as ‘ a double gun-carriage on which is coiled a scaly monster with barbed tail and three heads on serpentine necks’ belonging to a bishop, a soldier in a cocked hat, and the Duke of Newcastle. The car is driven by a judge and its wheels crush the taxpayers, shown as prostrate victims:

Anonymous, The Juggernaut Debt, 1832, wood engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

The illustration below was not part of Hawkins’s set either. It depicts poor John Bull almost dragged down into the sea by the weight of the repayments of the national debt. He is barely kept afloat by the beneficiaries of his efforts, who hold him hanging from a pitch-fork from the safety of their boat:

Anonymous, The sinking fund, 1832, wood-engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

I have often referred to Douce as a compulsive annotator -on the print below, from the same series, he wrote ‘Xt and crown of thorns’ next to the mask held by the bishop, possibly to indicate that the image should be filed with his many depictions of the face of Christ:

Posted in Collections and Collectors, Networks, Prints, Religion, Satirical prints, Tax, Uncategorized, Wood-engravings | Tagged , | Leave a comment