The Dutch Toy

Before her marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heiress to the British throne was betrothed to Prince William, the Hereditary Prince Of Orange. That was an union the Princess, much to her father’s chagrin, had never been too keen on. Both her mother’s hatred for the Orange family, and her reluctance to leave England and live abroad, even for a few months a year, eventually prompted her to end the engagement.

Of course these events were closely observed by the satirists of the time, who had a field day (or year) with it. Here are a few of the satirical prints making fun of the whole thing:

A Dutch Toy!!!-Or, a pretty Play-thing for a Young Princess!!! Huzza


Sitting under a canopy, Princess Charlotte is pulling the strings on a jointed puppet representing the Prince of Orange in military dress, holding a flag inscribed “Orange Boven”. Across her knees rests a miniature portrait of a man, inscribed “Fitz Mo” (the rest of the name is illegible). At her feet lies an open book inscribed “Clarence’s Dream”. In the garden, we can see a fountain, with water spurting from a cupid seated on a swan. Is Charlotte serious about the Prince of Orange, or is she just toying with him?

The Dutch toy


Princess Charlotte is raising a whip to lash a top spinning on the floor, on which sits the Prince of Orange smoking a pipe. In his pocket, he carries a piece of paper inscribed “Contract”. The Princess says: “Take this for Ma! and this for Pa!—and this! and this! for myself, you ugly thing you!—”

From the open door, we can see the leg and arm of the concealed Prince Regent, Charlotte’s father. He’s holding a birch-rod tied with orange ribbon, and, with a threatening voice, says: “If you don’t find pleasure in whipping the Top, I shall whip the Bottom!”

Behind Charlotte, there’s a piano, on which lies a copy of “School for Wives”, a comedy by Hugh Kelly, and an open music-book, inscribed with the words and music of a song:

“An Obstinate Daughter’s the plague of you [sic] life
No rest can you take tho your rid of your Wife
At twenty she laughs at the duty you taught her
Oh! what a plague is an obstinate Daughter.”

On the wall, hangs a portrait of Cupid. He’s standing on his head on a terrestrial globe, in the country of Holland, aiming his arrows at England.

Miss Endeavouring to excite a glow with her Dutch Play thing-


Printed one month after the previous print, Miss Endeavouring to excite a glow with her Dutch Play thing depicts Charlotte, still with a whip in her hand, standing over and pointing at the “Dutch Toy”, who is falling forward. The Prince of Orange is still smoking and carrying the contract in his pocket, but he’s now resigned he’s never going to marry Charlotte. Between his knees, he holds a bottle.

The Princess says: “There, I have kept it up a long while you may send it away now, I am tired of it, Mother has got some better play things for me.” The Regent replies, “What are you tired already? Take another spell at it, or give me the whip.” But Charlotte refuses: “No, No, you may take the Top, but I’ll Keep the Whip.”

At the Regent’s feet lies an open book titled The Way to Teaze him a Play in V acts’. On the wall hangs another portrait of Cupid. This time the god of love, who has dropped his bow and broken arrows, is resting his head on a large orange inscribed “Orange Boven”.

What do you think of these prints?

Painting The Regency

The Request

Born during the Victorian era, Edmund Blair Leighton was an English painter of historical genre scenes, specializing in Regency and medieval subjects. His paintings aren’t always accurate, and the discerning eye can spot lots of anachronistic details. But accuracy wasn’t the painter’s intent. He wanted to capture the romance and nostalgia attached to a bygone era, and in that, he fully succeeded. His sentimental paintings are absolutely beautiful.

Here are a few depicting his idealised idea of the Regency period:

The Piano Lesson

On The Threshold

English: In 1816


Going to church

Interesting Strangers

Regency Couple At Tea

A Wet Sunday Morning



Mother And Child

The Kite by Charles Sims

The birthday cake by Franz Verhas

Madame Georges Hugo and her son Jean by Giovanni Boldini

Mother And Child by Émile Lévy

The Bedtime Story by Arthur Elsley

Like No Other Love by Zula Kenyon

A Kiss Goodnight by Frederick Daniel Hardy

Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt

Mother and Child by William Rothenstein

Madame Monet And Her Son by Claude Monet

Motherhood by Vicente Romero Redondo

Mrs Edwards With Her Four Children And The Nanny by Giovanni Boldini

Her Littlest One by Marie Danforth Page

Young Mother In The Garden by Mary Cassatt

Mother and Daughter by Edward Verschaffelt

The First Born by Marie Aimée Eliane Lucas-Robiquet

Mother Love by Paul Peel

Celebrity Sightings At Vauxhall Gardens

Vauxhall Gardens, a pleasure garden located in Kennington on the south bank of the River Thames, was one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century. Initially entrance was free. The owners made money by selling food and drinks. But as its attractions expanded, an admission fee was charged too.

The gardens boasted a rococo Turkish tent, a Rotunda, several buildings in the chinoiserie style, a statue of George Frederic Handel, and walks so intricate and private they were often used for romantic assignations. Performances were frequent. Crowds gathered to watch tightrope walkers, fireworks, concerts (the most famous singers and musicians of the day, such as Handel, played there), and hot-air balloon ascents. In 1817, they even hosted a re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo.

All the most popular celebrities of the day could be frequently seen at Vauxhall Gardens. This print by Thomas Rowlandson has immortalized quite a few. In the centre, wearing a white dress, there’s Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. She’s with her sister Harriet, who’s wearing a blue riding habit. The two sisters, who were very close, are no doubt gossiping about their acquaintances, who are, in turn, talking about them.

Everything the Duchess did interested the papers and their readers. Next to the sisters, we can see Sir Henry Bate, the editor of the Morning Herald, and James Perry (he’s wearing a kilt), the editor of The Morning Chronicle, a rival publication. You can bet the sisters’ outing at Vauxhall Gardens will be reported by their papers the following day, hopefully accompanied by some juicy bits of gossip, if they can overhear any worth reporting from the ladies’ own lips.

Farther to the right, the Prince of Wales, future George IV, is whispering something romantic into the gorgeous Perdita’s ear. Mary Perdita Robinson and the Prince were lovers, but their affair had ended by the time Rowlandson draw this picture. Next to them stands Perdita’s husband, but no one is paying much attention to him.

In the dining box, enjoying a hearty meal, is Samuel Johnson, the author of the famous “Dictionary”. He’s eating with writers Mrs Thrale, Boswell, and Goldsmith. Jonhson’s friend Topham Beauclerk, a famous wit, is observing some ladies with his monocle.

More difficult is the identification of the performers. Some historians believe the singer to be Mrs. Weichsel, others her daughter, Elizabeth Billington. The identity of the composer leading the orchestra, instead, is certain. He’s François-Hippolyte Barthélémon.

Can you identify any other celebrity?

George Stubbs’ Horse Portraits


Aristocrats didn’t just commission portraits of themselves and their families. They also commissioned portraits of their beloved horses. In the 18th century, the man for the job was George Stubbs, a Liverpudlian painter with a fondness for these magnificent animals, which he perfectly captured in his pictures. Here are a few examples:

Bay Horse With A Groom

Captain Samuel Sharpe Pocklington With His Wife Pleasance And His Sister Frances

Countess Of Conings By Livery Of Charlton

George IV When Prince Of Wales

Horse And Rider

William Banderson With Two Saddle Horses

Baron De Robeck Riding A Bay Hunter

Joseph Smyth Esq Lieutenant Of Whittlebury Forest

Mares & Foals

Wedgwood And His Family

John and Sophia Musters Riding At Colwick Hall

The Phaeton Of The Prince Of Wales

Bay Horse And White Dog

Molly Long Legs With Her Jockey

A Game Of Tennis

The Tennis Match by Horace Henry Cauty

A Game Of Tennis by John Strickland Goodall

A Game Of Tennis by John Strickland Goodall

Tennis by John Lavery

A Game Of Tennis by Leopold Franz Kowalski

A Game Of Tennis by Francis Sydney Muschamp

A Game Of Tennis by George Goodwin Kilburne

A Game Of Tennis by John Lavery

The Mysterious Fair One, Or The Royal Introduction To The Circassian Beauty

George, the Prince Regent, loved women. All but his own wife, Caroline of Brunswick. The Prince was disgusted by her coarse manners and poor personal hygiene and refused, after their wedding night, to consummate the marriage again. For the rest of her life, he would try to get rid of her, which elicited people’s compassion for the slighted Princess, and instigated a slew of satirical prints about their marriage.

One of these prints, created by Isaac Robert Cruikshank, is titled The Mysterious Fair One, or – the Royal Introduction to the Circassian Beauty. The Persian Ambassador introduces a fair Circassian to the Regent with the hope she will join his harem. At first, the Prince is enthusiastic and declaims, “Oh what a form? What Symetry, what Elegance of manners ; in every gesture dignity and Love, –Oh how I long to have my Eyes gratified with a sight of that much injured fair one – a Slave indeed –no she shall not be a Slave to any Mans Passions, I’ll take care of that; for I’ll Marry her myself!!!”

At this the fair Circassian raises her veil and exclaims, “you have married her!”. The exotic foreigner turns out to be none other but his wife, the Princess of Wales. The Regent is horrified and cries out: “What, what, save me, hide me from – from –from – Myself.” Only the Persian ambassador isamused. He laughs: “What your own Wife ha- ha”.

Further reading:
English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century. How they Illustrated and Interpreted their Times, by Graham Everitt

Liaisons Dangereuses By Fragonard

A scandalous book requires a scandalous illustrator. And who better than French painter Fragonard to give us a visual representation of Pierre Choderlos’ Liaisons Dangereuses? Here are a few images he created for the 1796 edition:

Woman In Green

Camille by Claude Manet

Margarett by George Dunlop Leslie

Girl With A Red Umbrella by Herbert Gustave Schmalz

A Lady by Irving Ramsey Wiles

Lady With A Dog by Mather Brown

Portrait Of A Young Lady by Gilbert Stuart

The Green Dress by William McGregor Paxton

Woman In Green Dress by Lee Lufkin Kaula

Lady In The Green Dress With Mirror by Fernand Toussaint

Woman And Parasol by Fernand Toussaint

Woman At Toilette Mirror by Fernand Toussaint

Study In Black And Green by John White Alexander

The Green Dress by John White Alexander

Peasant Woman Digging by Vincent Van Gogh

The Woman With A Fan by Francisco de Goya

Girl With A Violin by Henry Harewood Robinson

Woman With A Guitar by Pierre Auguste Renoir


Santa Clause by Thomas Nast

Betlehemes készülődés by Böhm Pál

Christmas Comes But Once A Year by Charles Green

Merry Christmas (Yuletide Revels) by William Glackens

Christmas customs in Norway by Adolph Tidemand

Christmas Carols in Little Russia by Konstantin Trutovsky

Christmassy table of gifts for a girl, author unknown

The Christmas Party, attributed to Robert David Wilkie

Die Kinder der Familie Buderus by Ludwig Rößler

Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family by Eastman Johnson