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Engraving - The Interior of a Midshipman's Birth, 1821
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Engraving - The Interior of a Midshipman's Birth, 1821

Measurements: Overall: 38cm (15in) x 57cm (22.5in)



Coloured engraving, ‘The Interior of a Midshipman’s Birth’ inscribed lower left ‘Drawn by a Naval Officer’ and lower right ‘Published by G. Humphrey, 27, St. James’s Street, London, Aug 12. 1821.’ Framed and glazed.

This scarce caricature gives us a glimpse below deck on board a Royal Navy warship during the reign of George IV. The midshipmen are seen ranged around a table and we are given the distinct impression that a fair amount of grog has been consumed as the scene is one of frivolity and mischief. One sailor dances the hornpipe accompanied by a flute and a violin. Another sets fire to his sleeping comrade's eyelashes with a lighted cigar and others play cards and wager bets.

George Humphrey (born circa 1770) ran one of the most successful printing and publishing houses in the early nineteenth London . He served a long apprenticeship under his equally successful aunt, Hannah Humphry, before taking over her business in 1818. By that time the business had moved to new premises at 27 St. James's Street where crowds would gather each morning to see the latest caricatures pasted in the shop window.