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Molly Milton, the Pretty Oyster Woman

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Molly Milton, the Pretty Oyster Woman
  • Description

    A gaily dressed young woman wearing a flat hat, ringlets, a handkerchief which displays her breast, and an apron over a quilted petticoat, stands at her shallow tub of oysters, a knife in her right hand, turning to smile towards a fashionably dressed young man (left) who ogles her, his right hand in his breeches pocket, his left resting on a cane. A black page in livery (right), wearing a turban ornamented with feathers and beads, smiles insinuatingly at her, holding out a bowl. A high wall with placards, and large brick houses, probably at Billingsgate, form a background. 3 January 1788
    Hand-coloured mezzotint


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1788
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 351 millimetres
    • Width: 250 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title and "Printed for & Sold by Carington Bowles. No.69 St. Pauls Church Yard, London / Published as the Act directs [date erased from this impression]". Numbered bottom left 585
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
    'Milton [or Melton] Oysters' was a song in the repertory of the London tea-gardens. It was sung by Mrs. Jordan with great success in her early days. 'Jordan's Elixir of Life', 1789, pp. 5, 38-9. It begins:

    "There was a clever likely Lass,
    Just come to town from Gloucester;
    And she did get her livelihood,
    By crying Milton Oysters."
    'The Marybone Concert' [n.d.], p. 6.

    (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 60.
    For an impression with the date intact, see 2010,7081.3022. Another impression with the same date, 3 January 1788, was with Andrew Edmunds in 2015.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 7257 bibliographic details
    • Chaloner Smith 1883 undescribed bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Caricatures I p.109)

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


Satire: FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat).  c.1787  Hand-coloured mezzotint

Satire: FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). c.1787 Hand-coloured mezzotint

Image description



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Object reference number: PPA145607

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