Love 1862: Bewitched!

George Housman Thomas, 'The Artist at the Flower-Shows, No.II - Bewitched!', engraved by Horace Harral, 1862, in London Society, 2, August 1862, p.146, wood engraving, 11.4 x 18.8 cm, Cardiff University © www.dmvi.cf.ac.uk, 2014

George Housman Thomas, ‘The Artist at the Flower-Shows, No.II – Bewitched!’, engraved by Horace Harral, 1862, in London Society, 2, August 1862, p.146, wood engraving, 11.4 x 18.8 cm, Cardiff University © www.dmvi.cf.ac.uk, 2014

So, it’s that time of year again, when advertisements for dating sites are everywhere, pink chocolate hearts are for sale, and plans are made for Valentines Day (love it or loath it).  During our 1862 research we’ve come across some illustrations that suggest gardens and other public attractions are quite the place to pick up a date.  When thinking about 1862 and other mass-events of the nineteenth-century, we have to imagine the crowds of people assembled together from all walks of life; encounters unexpected, perhaps unwanted!  This is what this cartoon depicts, published during the summer of 1862 in London Society.  Beneath an awning we have a crowd of visitors, some leaning in to look more closely at the flowers – but not the gentleman in the centre of the image!  This dandyish figure stares at a lady, a rather matronly figure in her bonnet and swathes of cape and dress; meanwhile a younger lady looks on with a rather grumpy expression.  From the title of this illustration, it seems that artists were engaged by magazines to participate at these events and depict the scenes they encountered there, immortalising this little drama for posterity!  We hope 2014 sees you similarly lovestruck.

J. Thomas, P.T. Killick, A.A. Mandal and D.J. Skilton, A Database of Mid-Victorian wood-engraved illustration, http://www.dmvi.cf.ac.uk [accessed 14 January 2014]: LSF09

© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2014

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