“What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!” – Waltzing (1816)

Illustration of the correct technique for waltzing (1816).

This Saturday, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ begins again [known as ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in the USA] – but over 200 years ago dance enthusiasts would have been excited to feast their eyes on dancing illustrations in magazines.

The illustration we have here shows the correct technique for waltzing (1816). An important social skill for people of a certain class. Perhaps Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley or Lord Byron might have seen this when it first came out.

Some dancing quotes:

“What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!
There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one
of the first refinements of polished society.”

“Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue
amongst the less polished societies of the world. Every savage
can dance.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”
― George Bernard Shaw

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Work like you don’t need the money. Dance like no one is watching. And love like you’ve never been hurt.”
― Mark Twain

 

A dandy’s toilette (1818) – perhaps the famous “Beau” Brummel

A dandy’s toilette (1818)

A dandy’s toilette (1818). A colour engraving, alas the artist is unknown. Used in the book: The corset, A cultural history by Valerie Steele.

The dandy, might be George “Beau” Brummel (1778-1840), an iconic figure in Regency England and an arbiter of men’s fashion. He was a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV.

Illustration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1807) by William Blake

Illustration to John Milton's Paradise Lost (1807) by William Blake

Illustration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1807) by William Blake (1757-1827).

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). Milton is usually considered to be one of the greatest of England’s poets. The poem is about the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

William Blake (the illustrator of this print) was an English poet, painter & printmaker. I first saw his work as a child in the Tate Britain. I thought it looked very mysterious/magical.

Though famous today, Blake was largely unrecognised during his lifetime (so there’s hope for all of us). He’s now considered to be a major figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.

Fascinating fact: In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s big poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

An idealised depiction of the Champ d’Asile, a short-lived settlement founded in Texas (1818)

An idealised depiction of the Champ d’Asile by artist, Joseph Claude Pomel (1823).

An idealised depiction of the Champ d’Asile by artist, Joseph Claude Pomel (1823).

Champ d’Asile (“Field of Asylum”) was a short-lived settlement founded in Texas, USA in January 1818, by 20 French Bonapartist veterans of the Napoleonic Wars from the Vine and Olive Colony. The party was led by General Charles Lallemand. Land was offered to French settlers on March 3, 1817, after a vote by the United States Congress. Champ d’Asile was situated along the Trinity River and was abandoned in July of the same year.

Illustration showing gas light in “Jane Austen era” famous Art Library. Hi-tech!

Illus. showing gas light introduced into Ackermann's Art Library

Illustration showing Ackermann’s famous Art Library lit by the new invention of gaslight – detail of an aquatint by J. Bluck (c. 1812 – 1815). Think “Jane Austen era”. Wonderful new technology, but I hope Mr Ackermann took precautions regarding fire and the dangers of damage to the artworks from gas!

Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was located at on The Strand (Central London). He became a print seller, book seller, publisher and dealer in art materials. He is known for having employed the finest engravers of the period – often to great success. Well done, sir.