Print of the month
No. 13, September 2007
The Funeral Obsequies of Sir. All-in-New-Fashions
In February, we varied our normal diet of items held by the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum by including a print from the collection of Francis Douce (1757-1834) in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. We now include another such item, The Funeral Obseques [sic] of Sir. All-in-New-Fashions, which depicts a mock-funeral procession and is a fairly straightforward satire of extravagant male fashion issued c.1630. The imprint on the sheet reads, Are to be Sould by Thomas Geele at the Dagger in Lumbard Street. Little is known about the print-seller Thomas Geele, 1 but as F.P. Wilson was the first to point out, he is known to have sold from the same address a suite of prints engraved by Robert Vaughan of the Twelve Months of the Year illustrated by couples in national dress, which now survive uniquely as bound into the Huntington Library copy of Breton’s Fantasticks which was published in 1626. In 1630, still at the same address, his name appears on the second reprint of the Baziliώlogia, first issued in 1618, which contains over 30 prints of English monarchs.
The satire may be simple enough, but the print is not quite what it seems, for it is an extremely close copy (in reverse) of Trauer-Gesang/ Vber den all zu früe tödtlichen abgang/ Alla Modo Monsier [Song of Mourning on the all too early deathly departure of A la Mode Monsieur], or else (in the same direction) of Vnuersehner Hochbetriebter Doch Lächerlicher Todfall… [Unexpected … yet ridiculous death …], both dated 1629, the former explicitly on April Fools’ Day. 2 It is also entirely typical that no fewer than six impressions of the former sheet survive in German repositories, whereas the English print survives uniquely in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Harms assumes that the gallant’s Junckfraw, who ligt 6 woche[n]n zu bett [literally, ‘lies 6 weeks in bed’], must be lying in Wochenbett, i.e. childbed, and thus will eventually be delivered of an infant who will continue his father’s fashion-victimhood. Be that as it may, the translator clearly understood her bedbound condition differently, Englishing it, His wench 6 weekes through Greife doth keepe Her Bedd.
A long procession of mourners issues from beneath the upper room in which the grieving wench keeps her bed. Though dressed identically, and sporting the same pointed beard, the last few to emerge are labelled: His Launderesses and their maydes; Spurrier [maker of spurs]; Fendsor [fencer = fencing instructor]; Cutler; Musissioner [musician]; Taylor; Taylor; Gouldsmith; Shoomaker; Paynter; Feathermaker; Taylor; Taylor; Barber; Haberdasher; Wine Marchaunt; Poet. The plurality of tailors is clearly making a point, though not quite as heavy-handedly as the German original, in which no fewer than a dozen mourners are identified as tailors, in fact, every other mourner of those named. There are other—perhaps telling—minor differences in the tradesmen the English engraver has chosen to include or omit: if we can accept that his Haberdasher renders the German Kramer, it is interesting that he has translated the general Kauffman as Wine Merchant. But he has omitted five other tradesmen altogether: the Dantzmeister [dancing-instructor], Bereitter [riding-instructor], Schwertfeger [sword-maker], but also—more interesting from our point of view—the Drucker [printer] and Kupferstecher [engraver].
The German original is but one of a rash of prints appearing in 1629 satirising the adoption of French costume by fashionable German males. The French fashions being satirised may be seen, for example, in Abraham Bosse’s Le Jardin de la Noblesse Française issued in Paris in 1629, a suite of 18 fashion-plates depicting French cavaliers dressed in the height of fashion. Antony Griffiths has shown how John Goddard curiously selected seven of this set to copy and issued them—perhaps in the later 1630s—as The Seaven deadly Sins. 3
The verses below our English funeral-procession claim—somewhat vaguely—that his Long Coate, Capeles Cloake, Ruffes, [and] fallinge Bands are all fashions Lately brought from foreyne Lands. But the image itself may serve as something of a cautionary tale for us—if we did not know its origin, it would be very tempting to use it as an illustration of English male fashion c.1630 and, indeed, too often historians have used such images irresponsibly, knowing nothing of their origins.
For an unequivocally native English satire of male fashion we must wait until the engraved Picture of an English antick, with a list of his ridiculous habits, and apish gestures issued in 1646, in which the fashionable Cavalier beau is accompanied by a caption which enumerates no fewer than twenty-six details of his attire and accoutrements.
The Funeral Obseques of Sir All-in-New-Fashions is not the only mock-funeral to appear as a print. When ‘The Twelve Years Truce’ between Spain and the Netherlands failed in 1621, the breakdown was satirised in a sheet entitled The Funerall of the Netherlands Peace (1621), printed in the Netherlands from the plate etched by Claes Jansz.Visscher for the original Dutch version, Testament van’t Bestand, Treves Endt, but with English letterpress verses added. Thus the Dutch title Treves Endt—which cannot have been immediately meaningful to the English viewer—still actually heads the sheet. Again this affords us a rare glimpse into the technique of printing bilingual versions of a print for consumption both at home and abroad (a German version also exists, copying the Visscher plate in reverse with German verse and labels). This funeral procession wends its way towards a mausoleum, the coffin of Truce, covered in a pall inscribed with her name, being borne on the shoulders of twelve bearers, one for each year of the duration of the truce. The text makes clear that it is the fault of the Spanish and their Catholic supporters in the Netherlands that the Twelve Year Truce has broken down.
A third and later mock-funeral print is The Funeral of the Low Church or the Whig’s last Will and Testament published in 1710. 4
A fully diplomatic transcription of the verses on the English sheet follows:
THE FVNERAL OBSEQVES OF Sr. ALL=IN NEW FASHIONS:
Gallantes; Sr. All=in new Fashions is Dead;
Behold His hearse, Carried in Solemne Sorte:
His Wench 6 Weekes (through griefe) hath kept her Bedd.
Those men who Liud by him are all amorte; 5
Liud by him said I; noe, I am mistooke,
He Liud by them: his names in each mans Booke. 6
His Breeches, Dublet, Buffe coate, 7 Hatt and Fether;
his Spurres, Bootes, Garters, Gloues, Sword and Dagger;
instead of Flagges; are carried all to geather;
and other toyes, where with he used to swagger,
As Long Coate, Capeles Cloake, 8 Ruffes, fallinge Bands
all fashions Lately brought from forreyne Lands.
IF you Desire to see these thinges Agayne;
(for Fashions [ ; ] Ebb and flow as doth the Tyde)
Then make repayre, to Hounsditch, or Long Lane;
And there they Hange as Trophies of his Pride.
His Credit (with His Lyfe) being ended Here
tis thought hes gone, in Hell to Domynere. 9
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Douce Prints, Portfolio 138, no. 89. Dimensions of original: 209 mm x 303 mm
- F.P. Wilson, ‘The Funeral Obsequies of Sir All-in-New-Fashions’, Shakespeare Survey, 11 (1958), pp. 98-9. Back to context...
- W. Harms, Deutsche Illustrierte Flugblätter der 16 und 17 Jahrhunderts (Tubingen, 1985- [in progress]), vol. 1, p. 131. Back to context...
- Antony Griffiths, The Print in Stuart Britain 1603-89 (London, 1998), no.63. Back to context...
- British Museum Satires no. 1531, reproduced as fig. 90 in Timothy Clayton, The English Print 1688-1802 (New Haven and London, 1997). Back to context...
- dejected. Back to context...
- i.e., his name appears in their account books, as their bills have not been paid by him. Back to context...
- a stout coat of leather. Back to context...
- a cloak without a cap/hood. Back to context...
- domineer. Back to context...