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More skating on thin ice – this time Rowlandson’s view.

As a follow-up to the post a couple of days ago featuring Gillray’s skating-themed etchings, I thought a Rowlandson would be appropriate. Except that it was actually made some years earlier than the Gillray, so I suppose it is a prequel rather than a follow-up…..

Cold Broth and  Calamity Rowlandson 1792It is called  “Cold broth and Calamity” and appears on the ever-useful Lewis Walpole site. Thomas Rowlandson drew the scene of various figures falling through the ice in 1792, and in that original form it appears on the British Museum site. It was published by S W Fores the same year, and it re-surfaced again as a published print in 1800.

Trying to match up the fallen skaters with their skates is not easy, but there are two figures in the foreground with three pairs of skates waving in the air. Beyond them two skaters come to the surface. In the background a parson is about to take a tumble, while his companion loses his wig and hat. There is even a tent pitched on the ice, and a small group of onlookers have gathered to observe the  icy scene.

Rowlandson used a pen with coloured inks to draw the picture, and it was  then used in subsequent satirical engravings. Ackermann included it in  1808 in his series ‘Miseries of human life’ but by that time a large woman was shown joining the parson as he is about to take a tumble, and an equally large woman joined the group of onlookers, horrified at the scene of  impending disaster unfolding before them.

It brings back vague memories of being at boarding school sixty years ago, near Petersfield in Hampshire, where a gang of us pushed an old car onto the ice and then had to scarper like mad when the ice began to crack. I imagine the car is still there at the bottom of the lake, rusting away….

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