Seymour, Robert

Waltonising or Greenland Fisherman, c.1830


The 1820s and 1830s witnessed a dramatic growth in the fashion for angling among Britain’s urban middle class. This craze was reflected in a growing number of caricatures by Seymour and his contemporaries. On the far left, an angler dressed in fashionable country attire is engaged in a heated conversation with an army officer whose line has become entangled with his own. In the centre two dandies demonstrate their incompetence at the sport as they try to scoop a piglet out of the river. On the far right, another smartly dressed but clearly disinterested angler lets his rod dangle ineffectively into the water – a clear jibe at those who took part in the sport purely because it was fashionable. In the title of this work, ‘Waltonizing’ refers to Izaak Walton, the author of the 1653 treatise The Compleat Angler. A revised edition of this seventeenth-century manual, published in 1824, was hugely popular at the time. Underneath the print, the quote ‘Be quiet to go a-Angling’ is taken from the second chapter of Walton’s book. This advice dramatically contrasts the chaotic scene above. The subtitle ‘Green-land Fisherman’ refers to the ancient thoroughfare of Green Lane, which ran alongside the River Lea through the London suburb of Harringay, a popular out-of-town spot for fishing at the time. This caricature of angling was published by Thomas McLean in the 1830s. It may have been a forerunner to the series of humorous lithographic illustrations that Seymour was commissioned to produce for Richard Penn’s Maxims and Hints for an Angler: and Miseries of Fishing (1833).

About the Artist
Artist Seymour, Robert
Title Waltonising or Greenland Fisherman, c.1830
Dimensions 45 x 54.5 cms
Category Coloured Engraving
Reference 1984.025

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