La famille Anglaise à Paris.Plate 11 to ‘London und Paris’, x, 1802 . Explanatory text, pp. 90-5. Copy of No. 11 in ‘Le Suprême Bon Ton’ series, see BMSat 9957. An English John Bull stands stolidly full face with clasped hands, a grown daughter on his right arm, his wife on his left arm. With them are two tiny little girls and a grown-up son, also stolid. A Frenchman and a lady attitudinize elegantly on the left. 1802 Hand-coloured etching. British Museum 1856,0712.605
Mr JS and I have amused ourselves of late not just with thimble chatter, but with this satirical print of the English family in Paris.
I’m not nearly as funny as Mr JS, who pointed out that the bonneted girl on the far right is “I literally can’t even right now.” I think of her as Lisa Simpson, 1803. That’s the voice I hear reading the line texted to me: “I just want to pull this chemise dress over my head and die. Could someone with yellow fever cough on me?”
The father is Homeresque in his proportions, and nearly as befuddled. The artist is clearly mocking this poor family, contrasted with the graceful Parisians at left, but only the two youngest are aware, hiding in their cones of shame.
That deep coal-scuttle-like bonnet is mocked in other engravings; it is probably closer to the actual form of Julia Bowen’s cold scoop of 1799 than my approximation this fall. Julia would surely have known the shaming purposes of those grandiose and over-sized calashes: “Go sit in your calash and think about what you’ve done!” Mr JS quipped.
Appropriately enough, the silk I ordered to make my own calash of shame has arrived at the post office. Dark green taffeta envy lined with the bright magenta of embarrassment: clothes are so emotional.