Love 1862: Rival Roses

Florence Claxton, 'The Artist at the Flower-Shows. No.I - Rival Roses', engraved by Edmund Evans, 1862, in London Society, 2, July 1862, p.30, wood engraving, 11.8 x 19 cm, Cardiff University © www.dmvi.cf.ac.uk, 2014

Florence Claxton, ‘The Artist at the Flower-Shows. No.I – Rival Roses’, engraved by Edmund Evans, 1862, in London Society, 2, July 1862, p.30, wood engraving, 11.8 x 19 cm, Cardiff University © www.dmvi.cf.ac.uk, 2014

So, there’s no escaping it, its just one more day until Valentines Day (we can already hear the collective groans!).

However… what about the fortunate few with many Valentines?  Our cartoon today depicts two such young ladies in the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, with a host of attendant admirers flocking around them.  These gardens were connected to the 1862 International Exhibition (you can see the twin domes in the background) and visitors could buy a twin ticket that allowed them to walk through both attractions.  But the gentlemen in this image don’t seem that interested in what education and entertainment South Kensington had to offer that day!  Different ages but all well-dressed, they are paying court to the ladies in question – one to the left carries a bouquet, a suitable gift.  One on the right takes off his hat in deference to the lady.  The two women have crossed paths, hence the title of the cartoon – Rival Roses – in a Victorian garden.

How many Valentines are you expecting tomorrow?

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]: LSF025

© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2014

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