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Geography Bewitched! Or a Droll Caricature Map of England and Wales c.1793-1800

  • Author: Robert Dighton
  • Publisher: Bowles & Carver
  • Date: c.1793-1800
  • Dimensions: Sheet:17.5 x 21.2 cms


Another example of this “Droll caricature map” of England and Wales depicting the jolly figure of John Bull astride a sea monster, published by Bowles & Carver, circa 1800

About this piece:

Geography Bewitched! Or a Droll Caricature Map of England and Wales – c.1793-1800

Sheet:17.5 x 21.2 cms. Original hand colour. Trimmed just inside plate mark. Couple of fox marks to title below map image. Some slight soiling to verso margins, not affecting recto image.

One of a set of three “droll caricature maps” of the four home nations of the British Isles (England & Wales; Scotland; and Ireland), originally designed by talented artist & caricaturist, Robert Dighton [1751-1814] and published by London print seller, Carington Bowles [1724-1793] in about 1793.

This example is a subsequent edition bearing the imprint of Carington Bowles’ successors, the partnership formed by his son Henry Carington Bowles [1763-1830] and former apprentice Samuel Carver [1756? – 1841] and who operated under the name Bowles & Carver. Their premises were to be found at No.69 St.Paul’s Churchyard. This edition was probably published sometime between 1793 and 1800.

The figure depicted here is John Bull, the personification of England (or Great Britain or the British Isles), who, pipe between lips and frothing tankard of ale in his hand, sits astride a ferocious sea monster. Its gaping mouth is the Thames Estuary, whilst its scale-covered tail & fins are represented by the West Country, Devon and Cornwall. John Bull’s cloak represents Wales, flapping in the wind. His decorative hat is toppped by a red-feathered plume, its tip marked by Berwick-upon-Tweed and the Solway Firth beside it, denoting the northern border with Scotland.

Below the scene, a panoramic seascape displays many ships, symbolic of the maritime lifeblood of 18th Century English trade & commerce.

In 1806, the rival firm of Laurie & Whittle incorporated this instantly recognisable and highly popular form into their Whimsical Map of Europe, a commentary on Napoleon’s devastation of Continental Europe. The accompanying text clearly referenced this Bowles and Carver print:

Oft we see in the shops, a print set up for sale

England colour’d, an old fellow striding a whale

Yes! Old England’s a picture, the sea forms its frame,

And Hibernia abd Scotia they class with the same.

The three designs proved highly popular and numerous closely copied derivatives were published over the next twenty or thirty years.


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