From the press release: Pots with Attitude: Political and Satirical Prints on Ceramics The British Museum, London, 12 January — 13 March 2018 Curated by Patricia Ferguson Ceramics are rarely confrontational, but the pugnacious mugs, jugs, and plates in Pots with Attitude: Satirical and Political Prints on Ceramics, in Room 90a, a display at the […]
Louis XIV was responsible for spawning a bizarre fashion for enemas in late seventeenth-century France. The Roi de Soleil’s love affair with the clyster began as an attempt to cure a painful anal fistula but rapidly became popular amongst courtiers and fashionable members of French society. By the mid-1680s Louis was said to have subjected his poor backside to over 2,000 enemas and the procedure had become so commonplace that members of the royal court thought nothing about interrupting a conversation or a meal in order to have undertake a quick purgative there and then.
Naturally this fad was a gift for satirists, particularly those from nations that found themselves at war with France. Romeyn de Hooghe’s (1645 – 1708) Les Monarch Trombants (c.1674) for example, shows Louis straddling a globe whilst receiving an enema. The resulting stream of effluence flows across the map of Holland and western Germany, symbolising the befouling nature of French power and influence on Protestant Europe.
Images such as these crossed over from print into other forms of material culture. These silver buttons show Louis XIV (his identity being confirmed by the royal fleur-de-lis on the wall) receiving a rather forceful enema treatment from a burly physician who seems to be applying the treatment with such vigour that the monarch’s nightcap stands on its end.
It appears as though these buttons may have been part of a set which also contain another design, with no apparent royal connection, which shows a physician resting on his syringe as his satisfied patient relieves himself in a chamber pot.
We do not know whether these buttons were manufactured in France and intended to serve as a form of scatological social satire amongst those who did no share the king’s passion for rectal hygiene, or whether they were produced elsewhere in Europe for the purpose of mocking the French ruler and his subject. No doubt they would have served both purposes equally well.
This pair of buttons will be going on sale in the UK after Christmas, with an auctioneer’s estimate of £200 – £300.
This rare example of a late eighteenth-century jigsaw gives us some indication of the range of items that were manufactured and sold alongside satirical prints.
The paper labels on the front and side of the box indicate that the jigsaw was engraved and printed by John Wallis’s “Map Warehouse” at 16 Ludgate Street in March 1788 and sold by E. Newbury of St. Paul’s Church-yard. The latter is presumably Elizabeth Newbery, daughter-in-law of the noted children’s publisher John Newbery, who assumed responsibility for the family business following her husband’s death.
The puzzle is made from a single large printed sheet of laid paper which has been laid down on a thin wooden board and then cut into pieces. Each piece contains the portrait of an English monarch, with the chronology running from William I to George II (George III, who was king at the time, does appear to have been included). The images are accompanied by small groups of text explaining the notable people and events associated with each respective monarch’s reign.
The box-lid is decorated with a printed label bearing the lion and the unicorn of the royal crest and a title which reads: Wallis’s Royal Chronological Table of English History on a Plan similar to that of the Dissected Maps, Published March 31st 1788 by John Wallis , No.16 Ludgate Street, London [1.] Newbery’s name appears on a smaller label on the side of the lid and a third label, listing England’s kings and queens in order, has been pasted into the interior wall of the box.
As the covering labeling suggests, Wallis was not averse to reusing old prints and old plates. He was evidently known for producing “dissected maps”, which was presumably a canny of way of re-purposing unsold maps as children’s toys. Another good example of his penchant for recycling is the satirical broadside The Grand Republic Balloon, which was printed in 1798 but heavily based on a design he had engraved some 14 years earlier. The royal portraits he produced for this jigsaw were also copied onto wood and used to decorate a set of playing cards that can be found in the British Museum collection.
- The publication line on the jigsaw itself states that the image was published on 25th March, suggesting that it took several days to complete the manufacturing process.
From the Agnes Etherington Art Centre ‘He First Brought it to Perfection’: John Smith and the Mezzotint in Early Modern England Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s Unversity, Kingston, Ontario, 6 January — 8 April 2018 Curated by Andrea Morgan under the supervision of Jacquelyn Coutré The new printmaking technique of mezzotint found a modest audience in […]
Here’s something you don’t see every day. It’s a hand-drawn political banner advocating the cause of parliamentary reform. It was probably produced during the early part of 1832. We can be reasonably sure of this because the image was copied from a satirical lithograph published in The Weekly Dispatch on 1st January of that year.
The original image shows Britannia carrying a banner which bears the likenesses of Grey, Russell, Brougham and other leading Whigs. Behind her are two ships: the Reform which appears to be speeding forward under full sail, and the Anti-Reform which is slowly sinking below the waves.
Whoever copied the design onto the banner has made a few changes, presumably to reflect the fact that the image would be seen from a distance and therefore did not require the same level of detail as the print edition. The portraits of the Whig leaders have been removed from the banner entirely, whilst the image of the sinking ship Anti-Reform has been replaced by a portrait of Lord Brougham. The Reform is portrayed in profile rather than landscape and it’s name has been erased from the hull, meaning it serves more as generic symbol of British maritime power and / or mercantile prosperity than a specific metaphor for the Reform movement. The British lion has been shifted from the left to the right-hand side of the image in order to avoid crowding out the ship. A scroll has also been included at the top of the banner, which reads: “Now is the Winter of our Discontent Made Glorious Summer” – a quotation form Shakespeare which would appear again in the history of popular political unrest in Britain.
The image was painted in oil on a linen canvas which has subsequently been laid down on more modern boards. It measures 94 x 69cm. Despite the rarity of these items they are not hugely valuable, possibly because their size makes it very hard for collectors to store and display them. This example, which is admittedly in less than mint condition, was recently sold at auction for just under £700. Let’s hope it’s found a good home.