Friday, April 08, 2011
Images - from art of the print - Rowlandson
Hot Goose, Cabbage & Cucumbers" was drawn and etched by Thomas Rowlandson in 1823. Thomas Rowlandson's title may seem somewhat perplexing to the modern eye but a contemporary would easily recognize its significance. All three elements relate directly to the Regency world of the tailor. 'Goose' referred to a tailor's smoothing iron. Hot gooses (not geese) are being prepared in the fire by the young assistant. 'Cabbage' is an old English slang term for the left over pieces of cloth from commissioned suits. These pieces were often patched together or cut up and made into articles of clothing for sale -- at very little cost to the tailor. Both the old tailor and his other assistant are at work on such remnants. Tailors, in fact, were sometimes called cabbages. Finally, 'Cucumber Time' was a term used for the slow season in the tailoring trade, when the weeks were so unprofitable that all the food that could be afforded was cucumbers. An often used maxim was, "Tailors are Vegetarians, because they live on 'cucumber' when without work, and on 'cabbage' when in full employ." * Hence Thomas Rowlandson has depicted a pretty young maid selling her cucumbers at the window. Her calm and comely appearance represents a direct contrast to the occupants of the tailor's establishment.
In his famous satirical etchings and drawings of doctors and medical practitioners, Thomas Rowlandson took aim at treatments of the day and outright quackery. In one of his highest regarded etchings, "The Consultation or Last Hope", five doctors 'examine' a patient in his last, painful stage of gout. Behind them a nurse is fast asleep. By the fireplace (where the mantelpiece contains a lineup of failed remedies) other doctors and an undertaker await their respective turns. At this time consultation from multiple doctors was customary. It was also known as 'fee-grabbing', and doctors would hurriedly make the rounds of well to do sufferers for a guinea apiece.
Thomas Rowlandson has supplied the following quotation under the title; "So when the Doctors shake their heads, and bid their patient think of Heaven -- Alls over, good Night." 1808