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May-Day in London

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    J,7.6

  • Title (object)

    • May-Day in London
  • Description

    From 'The Wit's Magazine', i. 161. Illustration to verses, 'May Day ... By Mr Collings', p. 191. Milkmaids with their 'garlands' and little chimney-sweepers dance to a fiddle played by a man with one leg. There are two 'garlands' or pyramids of plate arranged with greenery, ribbons, &c. One (left) is surmounted by an urn with a streamer attached to it. It was carried by two chairmen, who have put it down while one drains a tankard; the other has removed his wig to mop his forehead. The other (right), surmounted by a short brush, is on the head of a milkmaid. Other milkmaids dance; one holds out her hand to receive a coin from a woman in a doorway over which is inscribed 'Original Shaving Shop A Room for Ladies'. A projecting lantern or sign is inscribed 'Shave for a Penny. Gentlemen Dispatched in a moment'. A child leans out of the window over the door holding a rattle, a woman stands behind. Other spectators look from adjacent windows. The little 'climbing boys' are dressed up and dancing, beating their brushes on their shovels. All wear wigs, two have laced hats. One, a mere infant, is dressed chiefly in a large wig and vandyked paper frills. The street is 'Milk Street'; over a shop window is 'Peter Pi... Pewterer'. Play-bills are posted on the wall: 'Theatre Royal Drury Lane ... Jovial Crew ... May Day' and 'Pantheon ... Concert'. 1 June 1784 Etching

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1784
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 189 millimetres
    • Width: 226 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered below image with production detail, "Collings del. / Blake sculp."; lettered below with object title; lettered below with publication line: "Publish'd as the Act directs, by Harrison & Co. June 1. 1784." Pen and ink inscription in right margin, in contemporary hand, presumably by a printseller: "1 Each or 7 for 6d".
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
    The shop of the 'penny-barber' shows that this is a poor neighbourhood; the milkmaids' display is less elaborate than that described by J. T. Smith, as seen by him in 1771, and their customers, before whose doors they dance, are less opulent. See 'Nollekens and his Times', 1905, pp. 19-21. In the picture of milkmaids on May Day by Hayman at Vauxhall, described by Smith (op. cit.), the fiddler was wooden-legged as in this print.
    Reproduced, 'Johnson's England', ed. A. S. Turberville, i. 174.

    (Supplementary information)
    This print is related to "May-Day. An Epistle...", which appears in letterpress in the text of "The Wit's Magazine", p. 191. For William Blake's prints for "The Wit's Magazine", etched after designs by Thomas Stothard and Samuel Collings, see 1872,1109.322-26 and J,7.6. Another impression of this print is in a scrapbook in the British Museum collection, reg. no. 1979,1110.25 (not yet catalogued on-line, as of 12th July 2004).

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  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 6740 bibliographic details
    • Essick 1991 XVI(5) bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: May-Day. An Epistle...
    • Associated Title: The Wit's Magazine
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1818

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    J,7.6

From 'The Wit's Magazine', i. 161. Illustration to verses, 'May Day ... By Mr Collings', p. 191. Milkmaids with their 'garlands' and little chimney-sweepers dance to a fiddle played by a man with one leg. There are two 'garlands' or pyramids of plate arranged with greenery, ribbons, &c. One (left) is surmounted by an urn with a streamer attached to it. It was carried by two chairmen, who have put it down while one drains a tankard; the other has removed his wig to mop his forehead. The other (right), surmounted by a short brush, is on the head of a milkmaid. Other milkmaids dance; one holds out her hand to receive a coin from a woman in a doorway over which is inscribed 'Original Shaving Shop A Room for Ladies'. A projecting lantern or sign is inscribed 'Shave for a Penny. Gentlemen Dispatched in a moment'. A child leans out of the window over the door holding a rattle, a woman stands behind. Other spectators look from adjacent windows. The little 'climbing boys' are dressed up and dancing, beating their brushes on their shovels. All wear wigs, two have laced hats. One, a mere infant, is dressed chiefly in a large wig and vandyked paper frills. The street is 'Milk Street'; over a shop window is 'Peter Pi... Pewterer'. Play-bills are posted on the wall: 'Theatre Royal Drury Lane ... Jovial Crew ... May Day' and 'Pantheon ... Concert'.  1 June 1784 Etching

Recto

From 'The Wit's Magazine', i. 161. Illustration to verses, 'May Day ... By Mr Collings', p. 191. Milkmaids with their 'garlands' and little chimney-sweepers dance to a fiddle played by a man with one leg. There are two 'garlands' or pyramids of plate arranged with greenery, ribbons, &c. One (left) is surmounted by an urn with a streamer attached to it. It was carried by two chairmen, who have put it down while one drains a tankard; the other has removed his wig to mop his forehead. The other (right), surmounted by a short brush, is on the head of a milkmaid. Other milkmaids dance; one holds out her hand to receive a coin from a woman in a doorway over which is inscribed 'Original Shaving Shop A Room for Ladies'. A projecting lantern or sign is inscribed 'Shave for a Penny. Gentlemen Dispatched in a moment'. A child leans out of the window over the door holding a rattle, a woman stands behind. Other spectators look from adjacent windows. The little 'climbing boys' are dressed up and dancing, beating their brushes on their shovels. All wear wigs, two have laced hats. One, a mere infant, is dressed chiefly in a large wig and vandyked paper frills. The street is 'Milk Street'; over a shop window is 'Peter Pi... Pewterer'. Play-bills are posted on the wall: 'Theatre Royal Drury Lane ... Jovial Crew ... May Day' and 'Pantheon ... Concert'. 1 June 1784 Etching

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