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The City Chanters By Samuel Okey After John Collet 1771

The City Chanters by Samuel Okey after John Collet 1771

Samuel Okey after John Collet (1725-1780) from the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Very interesting outfit for the center woman…

Detail: boy, wig, tricorn hat, sailor, sea turtle, straw hat, girl, doll, prison, hand bills

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. I hope someone comments who can explain the political situation this is about. Most of the strange assembly have tattered, torn, or odd clothes. What about the sweet girl and expensive doll? How are they affected by this problem? Why are they here, right in front of the prison bars. Note the effective use of people’s hands.

  2. I’m no scholar but a quick google search tells me that the assembly is in support for John Wilkes, the first elected Member of Parliament in 1757. Wilkes name appears on all of the pamphlets and on the tag attached to the flipper of the turtle in the upper right. In 1771 he championed the idea that printers had the right to publish “verbatim accounts of parliamentary debates”. (from Wikipedia). This would probably make him a bit of a hero to the “lower” classes which is highlighted by the fact that the whole thing is taking place right outside the prison.

  3. Interesting researching the subject of this drawing. Google John Wilkes (1725-1797) and also Fleet Prison.

    1. Please read the Wikipedia entry about John Wilkes, the radical, Parliamentary reforming M.P. and friend to America during the Revolutionary period. Consider this excerpt: “Wilkes faced a charge of seditious libel over attacks on George III’s speech endorsing the Paris Peace Treaty of 1763 at the opening of Parliament on 23 April 1763. Wilkes was highly critical of the King’s speech, which was recognised as having been written by Bute[citation needed]. He attacked it in an article of issue 45 of The North Briton. The issue number in which Wilkes published his critical editorial was appropriate because the number 45 was synonymous with the Jacobite Rising of 1745, commonly known as “The ’45”. Popular perception associated Bute – Scottish, and politically controversial as an adviser to the King – with Jacobitism, a perception which Wilkes played on.” There are many veiled messages in this engraving, all of which would be understood by an educated, politically aware person of the day. The British Museum explanation is extremely thin. I think they should be a bit ashamed to have nobody capable of researching and explaining this barbed satire of events of this period in Britain’s political history.

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