The Ton at Greenwich. A la Festoon dans le Park a Greenwich (caricature)

(Updated, July 2014) A satire on the size of French-inspired bouffant hairstyles and their protection with the fashionable head-dress called a 'calashe' from its resemblance to the folding hood of open carriages. The Royal Observatory, on the hill on the right, is shown from a roughly south-western aspect: this is probably copied from another image since only a view from the north/ north-west would give the relationship shown of the building on the hill as seen from a flat path at a lower level (i.e., from just south of the Queen's House). The print is also an early image of an umbrella, carried by the servant. At this time, it was almost unheard of for gentlemen to carry umbrellas in England. In France, however, it was common for people to use them as protection against sun and rain. Jonas Hanway, founder of the Marine Society, is credited with being the first Londoner who, from the 1750s, regularly carried an umbrella, and attracted considerable satirical comment on that account.

While Greenwich Park was a place of still fairly restricted fashionable resort at the time this print was made, the fact that it is the specific location of the satire (rather than St James's Park, for example) invites speculation on who the self-evidently grand lady shown might be, if specific. One possibility is Lady Katharine Pelham (c. 1700-1780) daughter of John Manners, 2nd Duke of Rutland and by this time widow of former Prime Minister, Henry Pelham (1696-1754). A formidable wielder of patronage on behalf of herself and her family, her political influence survived Pelham's death by the awe in which she was held by his brother and successor, the Duke of Newcastle, until he resigned in 1762, but she remained a socially significant figure thereafter. She was appointed Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1745, a sinecure which made the Queen's House her official residence. It is known that about £10,000 was spent on it for her in the early years, though no details survive or on how she used it - presumably mostly in summer: her London residence, Pelham House in St James's (which also survives) had even more spent on it. Given that Lady Katharine remained Ranger to her death in 1780, her personal tenure of the House as a grace-and-favour residence well exceeds the next-longest of Admiral Sir John Jennings: he held it immediately before her as Governor of Greenwich Hospital and Ranger of the Park, 1720-43, and was the last to hold both roles. The woman shown here is clearly one of mature years and her profile suggests force of character: unfortunately (and perhaps surprisingly) there appears to be no recorded image of Lady Katharine with which to make a comparison.

Object Details

ID: PAH3334
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Darly, Mary and Matthew
Places: Greenwich
Date made: 11 August 1777
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 354 x 249 mm; Mount: 558 mm x 405 mm

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