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Two versions of refinement – London Refinement, 1787 and the Refinement of Language, 1802.

Googling the word ‘refinement’ brought up a couple of interesting caricatures:

I rather like this fashion print (courtesy of the British Museum) showing what the fashionable male was wearing 225 years ago:

Somehow it sums up why I spend my time in the eighteenth century – style! (When, and why, did the male of the species suddenly give up on being the peacock?)

The museum description gives us this: A foppish young man wearing a looped hat with cockade, double-breasted waistcoat, ruffled shirt, striped stockings, and low shoes with rosettes, walks (left to right) rapidly but affectedly. His head is turned to the left and he looks downwards; his left hand held up in a finicking manner. The artist was originally taken to be Thomas Rowlandson but credit is now given to Raphael Lamar West.

But  I was also interested in seeing that Rowlandson had produced a print called Refinement of Language – shown here courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is an interesting mixture of puns and exaggerations, with its six sections showing a timber merchant (actually, a match seller…); a turkey merchant (not from Turkey, or a member of the Levant and Turkey Company – but a poulterer selling turkeys); a man of letters (the postman…); a banker ( a grave-digger piling soil up over the corpse); a merchant taylor (sounds grand, but actually a man flogging second hand clothing…); and a master of the mint (the fragrant variety). It was published by Thomas Tegg in 1802 and follows an earlier design by the caricaturist G M Woodward.

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