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A coachman, a cook and a household servant in a state of intoxication refuse to open the door of their quarters to their master. Etching by James Bretherton after T. Orde Powlett.

  • Orde, Thomas, Baron Bolton, 1746-1807.
Date
23d Feb.y 1774
Reference
29647i
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view A coachman, a cook and a household servant in a state of intoxication refuse to open the door of their quarters to their master. Etching by James Bretherton after T. Orde Powlett.

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Credit: A coachman, a cook and a household servant in a state of intoxication refuse to open the door of their quarters to their master. Etching by James Bretherton after T. Orde Powlett. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark

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About this work

Description

"James Townley's farce High life below stairs was first performed on the London stage in 1759. Famous on both sides of the Atlantic, it provoked outrage among servants for caricaturing their manners. The play's protagonist is a white Jamaican landowner, Lovel. Believing that his servants are cheating him, he infiltrates their quarters. Here we see the cook between a white coachman and servant named Kingston, both drunk on their master's wine. Although Kingston occupies a lowly position in the servant hierarchy, he too refuses to answer Lovel's knock at the door. Kingston is referred to by the cook and coachman as "Sambo" and "Blackee" both names frequently applied to black servants (the latter epithet became especially common after the appearance of Townley's play). Kingston was played by white actors in blackface. Thomas Orde sketched this caricature while taking part in a private production of the play. It was common for amateur artists to circulate etchings like this among friends."-- Slavery and portraiture in 18th-century Atlantic Britain, loc. cit.

Publication/Creation

[London?] : [James Bretherton?], 23d Feb.y 1774.

Physical description

1 print : etching, with drypoint ; platemark 26.7 x 29 cm

Lettering

High life below stairs as it was represented at Cashiobury the seat of the Earl of Essex. Coachman - You go." Cook - Hang me if I go." Kingston - Mollsey, Pollsey go." Mr. Orde del. Js. Bretherton f.

Edition

[State with etched lettering].

References note

Not found in: British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, London 1870-1954
Slavery and portraiture in 18th-century Atlantic Britain, online on website of Yale Center for British Art, 2014, http://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/289/high-life-below-stairs

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 29647i

Type/Technique

Languages

  • English


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