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The Frenchman in Distress

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Frenchman in Distress
  • Description

    A street scene; a stout hackney coachman seizes by the collar a tall, lean French barber, who deprecatingly holds out an empty pocket. The barber is fashionably dressed with ruffled shirt; a comb and scissors project from his waistcoat pocket; other tools of his trade have fallen to the ground. The coachman wears a round hat in which are two tickets, one '102 N', showing the number of his coach; there are holes in his coat, waistcoat, and stocking. Behind him (left) is his coach. On the opposite side of the road (right) are two amused spectators: a sailor wearing a round hat and striped trousers, and a fat oyster-woman holding a little girl on one arm; a knife hangs from her waist, and behind her on a bench is a basket of oysters. They stand outside an alehouse, indicated by the sign of chequers and the words London Porter on the shutter of an open sash-window, from which two men are leaning; the dial of a clock inside the room shows that it is five o'clock. Large brick houses receding in perspective complete the background. Beneath the title is engraved:

    'Pay me my Fare and be damn'd to you.
    Me ad only von Sixpence port my Honare.' 1784
    Hand-coloured mezzotint


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1784
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 350 millimetres
    • Width: 250 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title and two lines of conversation, with "Printed for & Sold by Bowles & Carver. No.69 in St. Paul's Church Yard, London." Numbered bl 515.
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
    One of many satires on the popular theme of the beggarly French fop.

    (Supplementary information)
    Dighton's original watercolour for this print from the collection of Mr Jeffrey Rose was sold at Sotheby's, 23 February 1978, lot 17. We are grateful to Nicholas Stogdon (email, December 2015) for notifying us that this (and the two impressions that went with it in the Rose collection) was resold, from the estate of Michael Winner, London, Sotheby's, 3 July, 2013, lot 163.

    The date of publication is given by Dorothy George (see BMSat. V p.787). In Vol.VI p.1002 she notes a later state dated 6 January 1797 (for an impression see 2010,7081.1078). Christopher Lennox-Boyd notes an impression in Washington, LC, from an earlier state, a proof before letters.
    An impression with Andrew Edmunds in 2015 also numbered 515, was dated 6 January 1784, its title reading "The FRIESIEUR in DISTRESS."


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 6761 bibliographic details
    • Chaloner Smith 1883 undescribed bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Caricatures I p.24)

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


Satire: FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 1784  Hand-coloured mezzotint

Satire: FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 1784 Hand-coloured mezzotint

Image description



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Object reference number: PPA145324

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