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Print - Mifs Nancy Dawson

Mifs Nancy Dawson

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    London (printed and published)

  • Date:

    early 19th century (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Aquatint coloured by hand

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Marie Rambert

  • Museum number:

    E.4968-1968

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Many 18th century dance prints show ballet, which appealed to a fashionable audience. Nancy Dawson was popular with the general public and she is one of the few 18th century non-ballet dancers to be immortalised in a souvenir print. She was a one trick pony - her hornpipe caught the public imagination and for a short time she was the toast of London; prints of her in this pose were published and verses about her dance were set to the traditional tune Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.
She is not wearing glamorous stage costume, but something more like ordinary street clothes, with her shawl tied around her body and her timeless hat. Her fame must have lasted into the 19th century, because she died in 1767 yet this print is a lithograph, a process that was not invented until the early 19th century.

Physical description

A female figure stands against grey panelling, facing the viewer, her right hand on her hip, her left held out at shoulder height. On her head is a 'halo' hat in pale pink with a black edge and around her neck a pearl choker. Her yellow sprigged dress has elbow-length sleeves, a black stomacher, and the skirt is pulled up to reveal a pale purple petticoat with a lattice and fleur de lys pattern. Around her shoulders, tied mid bodice, is a green yellow shawl with a pattern of dark red dots arranged in blocks; over the skirt is a large white diaphanous spotted apron, which is pulled up and held under her right hand on the hip.

Place of Origin

London (printed and published)

Date

early 19th century (printed and published)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Aquatint coloured by hand

Dimensions

Height: 444 mm right hand side, Width: 293 mm lower edge

Object history note

The print is part of the collection of dance prints amassed by Marie Rambert and her husband, Ashley Dukes in the first half of the 20th century. Eventually numbering 145 items, some of which had belonged to the ballerina Anna Pavlova, it was one of the first and most important specialist collections in private hands.
Rambert bought the first print as a wedding present but could not bear to give it away. As the collection grew, it was displayed in the bar of the Mercury Theatre, the headquarters of Ballet Rambert, but in 1968, Rambert gave the collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum; seven duplicates were returned to Rambert, but these are catalogued in Ivor Guest's A Gallery of Romantic Ballet, which was published before the collection came to the V&A. Although often referred to as a collection of Romantic Ballet prints, there are also important engravings of 17th and 18th century performers, as well as lithographs from the later 19th century, by which time the great days of the ballet in London and Paris were over.

Historical context note

Many 18th century dance prints show ballet, which appealed to a fashionable audience. Nancy Dawson was popular with the general public and is one of the few 18th century non-ballet dancers to be immortalised in a souvenir print. Her hornpipe caught the public imagination and for a short time she was the toast of London; prints of her in this pose were published and verses about her dance were set to the traditional tune Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.

Descriptive line

Nancy Dawson. Aquatint coloured by hand early 19th century

Production Note

Printed for Robert Sayer, Map and Printseller at the Golden Buck near Serjeants Inn Fleet Street

Materials

Ink; Watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Aquatint; Hand colouring

Subjects depicted

Dancers

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Prints

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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