- Museum number
- Object: The Antiquarian Society.
Plate from the 'Scourge', iii, before p. 431, illustrating 'The Society of Antiquaries', pp. 450-5; see also ibid., pp. 188-94. A meeting of the Society with Lord Aberdeen in the chair addressing the members, only one of whom is listening. Aberdeen is young, slim, and handsome, and stands full-face, holding out his cocked hat in his left hand, and in his right a large scroll inscribed 'K.I.S.S. / M.Y. / R'; he says: "Behold Gentlemen a most Curious relique of Antiquity." From his pocket hang papers: 'Ancient Ballads' and 'Bonny Jem of Aberdeen'. His (raised) presidential chair is at the centre of a table which forms the head of a T, at right angles to that at which the members are seated. On it are a tasselled cushion and (?) mace. At his left hand sits the Secretary, Nicholas Carlisle (1771-1847), talking to Samuel Lysons, who listens intently. They are identified by papers inscribed 'Antiquity of Carlisle' and 'Lyson', while the latter holds a volume of 'Magna Britannia'.
On the left of the table is a group of eight. In the foreground a man whose profile caricatures that of George III, leans his elbow on the rail at the back of the bench to listen to Flaxman, who is earnestly expounding the 'Holy Bible', a finger on the open book. The former is identified by a paper inscribed 'Barnard Castle', and an open book: 'Essay on Royal Bastards / George II— N° one—Barnard N° two—'. He is evidently Frederick Augustus Barnard [according to Reid he is George III], a Vice-President of the Society, cataloguer of the King's library now in the B.M.L. Flaxman is round-shouldered to deformity, with shrunken legs. Between and behind them is Sir Joseph Banks, full-face, and wearing his star. On the extreme left is John Landseer, clutching a paper: 'Landsee's Review'. Seated next Barnard is Sir Henry Englefield, F.S.A. since 1779, the ex-President and a Catholic. A rosary is slung from his shoulder. He is intently inspecting through a glass a bust of a leering black woman with a damaged nose, and has two papers: 'Antiquity of the Black Joke' and 'Antiquity of Rapes'. Next him is Viscount Valentia (1769-1844), identified by the book which he holds: 'Travels in India by Lord Valetia' [sic]; facing him is a man resembling (though not conclusively) Warren Hastings, who listens intently. Near them stands Thomas Dibdin (1776-1847) taking off his hat; he is identified by the paper under his arm: 'Dibdens Bibliomania' [cf. No. 11686].
On the opposite side of the table is a good-looking man holding out a book inscribed 'Hist of Celts Herons Letters' [apparently Sir Robert Heron, 1765-1854]. Next him sits the Duke of Norfolk, fast asleep, holding a paper: 'Ant[iquity] of Norfolk'. Lord Mulgrave (Master-General of the Ordnance 1810-18) stands behind him putting a hand on his shoulder. He is identified by a paper: 'Ants of Ordanance [sic] offices'. Next him stands Payne Knight, identified by the book under his arm: 'Essay on Priapus P Knight'. Behind him is a broad and jovial face, unidentified. A youngish man facetiously points a magic lantern at Norfolk, at very close range. Next him is a man who turns his back on this group to listen to the chairman; his elbow rests on a paper: 'Scrap . . . for Gentlemans Review by a Carter'. He is evidently John Carter, F.S.A. (described as an indefatigable contributor to the 'Gentleman's Magazine'), who did architectural drawings for the Society's publications. Behind him two men stand in conversation, one wearing a star, the other holding a paper: 'Antiq . . . Puffs'.
On the table are various 'antiquities'. A pig-trough inscribed 'Sarcophagus' and, less conspicuously, 'Gubbins's Piggery'. A neatly made boot-tree for a top-boot, in three pieces and with a hinged instep, is inscribed 'Hoby Boot Maker London'; this is 'Fragment of an Apollo'. A pile of preserve jars inscribed respectively 'Beans', 'Goosberry', and 'Cabbage', is labelled 'Funereal Urns'. A battered pot is a 'Roman Vase', a hoop is 'Wedding Ring of Hercules'; a coalscuttle is labelled 'An Ancient Shield', and a bowl inscribed 'T Smoothwell Shaver Lond...' is (though not in the traditional Mambrino shape) 'A Helmet'. Above the fireplace and behind the presidential chair is a bust of George III inscribed 'Patronus'. On the right wall is a much-tilted picture of Henry VIII (burlesqued), enthroned and holding a sceptre, with Prince Edward on his right hand and Princess Elizabeth on his left; other figures are indicated.
1 June 1812.
- Production date
Height: 202 millimetres
Width: 380 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
Aberdeen (1784-1860), Byron's 'travelled thane' and 'Scotch Reviewer', was elected President on 12 Apr. 1812, succeeding Englefield, as a result, it is alleged, of intrigues that have 'distracted the society'. An attack on the contents of 'Archæologia' and on the alleged undistinguished pedantry of Carlisle, Carter, and S. Lysons. The gullible antiquary was a stock subject of ridicule, cf. No. 9296.
Reid, No. 162. Conn, No. 732.
For the detail of man in left foreground looking at a deformed African bust with paper inscribed "Antiquity of the Black Joke", see Temi Odumosu, "Africans in English Caricature 1769-1819: Black Jokes, White Humour" (Harvey Miller) 2017, chapter 2, “ ‘What a nice bit!’: The Comic ‘sable mistress’ and her Suitors”, pp. 99-135.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number