"Settling the Affairs of the Nation"... that is what it's called. After yesterday's 1919 barroom scene from New York City, I was looking for an earlier characteristic tavern scene. Sadly, photography did not exist in 1775 so this print will have to do. Click for a bigger image. The first thing that caught my eye was the architecture with that serving stall in the corner. Late 1790s and early 1800s Ontario taverns were build with that sort of structure according to In Mixed Company by Julia Roberts. There are a few interesting commentaries on this image:
• The British Museum dates it at 1784 describes the copy of the print above in fairly technical terms:
Interior of a tavern, where four men are sitting in the left foreground, one carrying a basket on his back, listening to a soldier who stands with his back to the hearth, one hand raised as he talks, while a woman pours out a glass behind a counter on the right; shelves with plates, a pot over the stove, a gun by the counter, leaves tucked into the panes of the window, bird-cage and branch of foliage hanging from the ceiling, a print of Pine's portrait of John Wilkes above the door, and two tubs of vegetables on the flagged floor in the foreground.
• The blog The Still Room provided an alternative version of the image - which is under that thumbnail to the right. Another male figure is added to the right:
There are a lot of fun things to explore in this print sold by Bowles & Carver in London. I’m enjoying the tavern maid’s cap, the spitjack (which rotated roasting meats over the fire, the standing man’s pack basket, the sprigs in the tavern windows (anyone know the purpose? and the branch hanging from the ceiling next to the bird cage?), the vegetables in the bucket and tub on the floor, and so forth.
• The blog Hiddendirk dates it at 1775 and explains the purpose in this way: "Notice the mistletoe hanging from the ceiling, the wreaths on the door and the evergreen cuttings in the windowpanes. It is a Christmas scene. The image discussed is again the one with the extra man to the right. Even bigger version here. Still more on the Christmas theme of the image at this Colonial Williamsburg webpage.
The thing I noticed first is the man sitting nearest the center is drinking a quart. Not sure how he can be wrapped up in a coat when he is about sitting six feet away from about 300 pounds of blazing charcoal. The first does look a little over stoked. The officer with the roasting buttocks is holding court. All eye's are upon him. The version with the man by the door is finer. The sign above the door and at the drinks stall are legible. The latter says "Punch in Large Quantities". Does the other read "Heart's Ease"? There is a cask labeled "GIN" on the counter behind the server. There is no cask in the British Museum version and tankards are hanging from the shelves.
The painting above the door is described as being a portrait of John Wilkes the member of the British Parliament who was a radical and supporter of the American Revolution. The soldier is facing it as he expounds. I like the way the gun is resting by itself in the corner. There are a few messages about plenty. Is the message that the authority of the soldier is out of place? Or is he back from the wars? The pamphet on the table reads "The King's... [something]"... is it "speech"? The pot is about to boil over. The man attending the fire is asleep as his his dog.