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Caricature & Satire, Maritime, Artist and Sailor, George Woodward, Antique Print, London, c. 1807


George Moutard Woodward (1765-1809) (after)
Piercy Roberts (act. 1791-1824) (etcher)
A Sailor Sitting for His Miniature
Thomas Tegg, London: c. 1807
Hand-colored etching
10.75 x 15 inches

The artist, Woodward, has depicted himself in profile in this social satire of an effete gentleman painting the portrait of a coarse and voluble sailor whose stream of consciousness directions to the artist are printed in the upper margin. The humor derives from the contrast between the beefy sailor with his torrent of words and the delicate, impassive artist, calmly working at his desk in his dressing gown, ankles daintily crossed, pinky out and palette in hand, on the tiny oval portrait. The sailor is dressed in a short jacket, striped trousers, straw hat, and buckled shoes. He smokes a pipe and rests his fists on his thighs, and watches the artist work with a skeptical sideways glance. Another joke concerns the large mole on his cheek, which he admonishes the artist to make sure not to leave out: “Poll calls it her hearts delight.” “Poll” could refer to his sweetheart — or his parrot.

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The sailor’s monologue reads:

“Come my Hearty – mind what you are at – make good use of your Eyes – you know the terms on which I set sail – ten golden quids if you come to Anchor in ten minutes – but a minute beyond time, and you have but five you know, so heave a head do you hear – and lay in plenty of the true-blue about the jacket, – and Harkee Young-one – don’t forget the beauty spot on the lar-board side of my Cheek – Poll calls it her hearts delight, – well this same painting is a fine knack to be sure – but I am rather puzzled about one thing – If you can get my hulk, head, and stern into that there little bit of ivory – d–n me, but I think you would be able to tow a seventy-four through one of the cock boat Arches of London Bridge.”

Versions of this engraving are found in the collections of the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England. The British Museum says that “Woodward is identifiable as the miniature painter by comparison with the stipple portrait by Cheesman after Adam Buck used as the frontispiece to his ‘Fugitive and Other Literary Works’ (1805). Thomas Tegg operated out of the 111 Cheapside location noted in the publication credits between 1805 and 1824.

George Moutard Woodward was a prolific British caricaturist whose works were frequently published by Piercy Roberts, Thomas Tegg, and William Holland, and frequently etched by Roberts, Rowlandson, and Cruikshank. His earliest works appeared around 1785. By 1791 he had produced works for William Holland and Fores, and later worked for Allen & West, R. Ackermann, Thomas Tegg, Piercy Roberts, and others. In addition to separately issued plates, he wrote verse and prose and published the illustrated works Eccentric Excursions in England and Le Brun Travestied (1800). He also published The Caricature Magazine (1807), and Comic Works in Prose and Poetry (1808). The British Museum owns 666 prints after Woodward, including A Sailor Sitting for His Miniature.

Piercy Roberts was a caricaturist, etcher, engraver and publisher working in London from at least 1791 to 1824. He was known for his satirical subjects and portraits. In the late 1790s Roberts was copying and engraving portraits for John Sewell, then worked for William Holland. In 1801 he started his own publishing business, which he closed in 1806 when his stock was taken over by Thomas Tegg. Between 1821 and 1824 he worked for Hodgson & Co.

Thomas Tegg (1776-1845) was a printer, bookseller, stationer and paper dealer in London. Orphaned at the age of five, he lived in various cities as a young man before arriving in London in 1796 and starting a publishing business with a partner in 1799. After losing money, he left for the provinces where he conducted auctions and returned to London in 1805 with debts paid and started a firm under his own name. Over the next 40 years, he published over 4,000 items including abridgements of popular works, the London Encyclopedia (1825), and song books. His sons Thomas (d. 1871) and William (1816-1895) also worked with him and William Tegg continued as a publisher after his father’s death under his own name until 1890.

Condition:  Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, handling wear.  A few minor pale patches of discoloration in lower margin, unobtrusive.  Margins good for a separately issued caricature.

Full publication information: Pub’d Jan’ry 1 1807 by T Tegg 111 Cheapside London (in matrix). Pub’d by P. Roberts 28 Middle Row, Holborn (below title). Numbered “N25” in upper right corner.


“A sailor sitting for his miniature.” British Museum. 2017. (27 July 2018).

“A sailor sitting for his miniature.” Victoria and Albert Museum. 2017. (27 July 2018).

“George Moutard Woodward.” British Museum. 2017. (27 July 2018).

Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in Book History. 20 June 2001.; (27 July 2018).

“Piercy Roberts.” British Museum. 2017. (27 July 2018).

Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 5, pp. 393-394.

Additional information


20th Century