Mother Louse, of Louse Hall, near Oxford
Late 18th Century British Ale-Drinking Print
Mother Louse, of Louse Hall, near Oxford
David Loggan (c. 1635-1692) (after)
Mother Louse, of Louse Hall, near Oxford
C. Johnson, London: 1793
Black-and-white engraving
10 x 8 inches
$350

A portrait of the English alewife Mother Louse of Louse Hall, holding an ale tankard and a pitcher.  It is accompanied by a humorous poem and coat of arms featuring three lice and a tankard, with the motto “Three Lice Passant.”  Louse Hall (as it was known from about 1547) was an asylum for the poor, though originally it was Gosford Hospital in Oxfordshire, established in the 12th century.  Louse Hall subsequently became an alehouse kept by Mother Louse as its alewife.  According to legend, Mother Louse was the last English woman to wear a ruff, and the verse printed below her portrait refers to that.

This engraving was made in 1793 after the original 17th-century version by David Loggan, and published in volume 1 of Wonderful Magazine.  The National Portrait Gallery has one of these engravings in its collection, with "Wonderful Magazine" printed in the top margin (see References below).  In the example offered here, that portion of the margin been trimmed off.

The verse reads:

You laugh now Goodman two shoes, but at what?
My Grove, my Mansion House, or my dun Hat;
Is it for that my loving Chin & Snout
Are met, because my Teeth are fallen out;
Is it at me, or at my RUFF you titter;
Your Grandmother you Rouge nerewore a fitter;
Is it at Forebead's Wrinkle, or Cheek's Furrow,
Or at my Mouth, so like a Coney-Borrough,
Or at those Orient Eyes that nere shed tear,
But when the Excisemen come, that's twice a year.
Kiss Me & tell me true, & when they fail,
Thou shalt have larger Potts & stronger Ale.

David Loggan was a British engraver, draftsman and painter.  Descended from an Anglo-Scottish family, he was born in Danzig (now Gdansk), where he first studied under Willem Hondius. He then studied with Crispijn van de Passe in Amsterdam, before arriving in London in the mid 1650s.  Loggan produced mainly engravings, as well as miniature portrait drawings in graphite on parchment.  In 1662, he engraved the title page for the folio Book of Common Prayer.  By 1669, he was living in Oxford and was appointed "public sculptor" to the university.  He then proceeded to draw and engrave all the Oxford colleges in bird's-eye views for his famous folio Oxonia Illustrata, published in 1675, the year that he was made a British citizen.  In 1690, he published Cantabrigia Illustrata, a collection documenting Cambridge University, and was given the position of engraver to the university.  Loggan was a prolific portraitist, and has numerous engravings in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

C. Johnson was a printseller and publisher in London from 1793 to 1794, during which time period it published Wonderful Magazine.  After that, the firm was succeeded by that of bookseller Alexander Hogg, who continued publishing the magazine under his own name.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light soiling and wear. Faint crease to center from fold has been flattened. Top margin trimmed.

References:

"David Loggan." The Grove Dictionary of Art. Online at Answers.com. http://www.answers.com/topic/david-loggan-1 (22 January 2013).

Markham, Margaret. "Medieval Hospitals." The Vale and Downland Museum. http://www.wantage.com/museum/Local_History/Medieval_Hospitals/body_medieval_hospitals.html (23 January 2003). 

Matterer, James L. "Feasts Within the Society for Creative Anachronism." 1993. http://www.godecookery.com/scafeast/ians2.htm#louse (23 January 2003).

Maxted, Ian. "The London book trades 1775-1800: a checklist of members." Exeter Working Papers in Book History.   11 January 2007 http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-h.html (Hogg) and 5 November 2008. http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-i-k.html (Johnson). (21 January 2013).

"Mother Louse." National Portrait Gallery, UK. 2012. http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portraitLarge/mw140400/Mother-Louse (21 January 2013).


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