The Humorous Diversion of Sliding on the Ice thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

The Humorous Diversion of Sliding on the Ice

Oil Painting
1741-1742 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This painting was one of 50 supper box pictures at Spring Gardens, Vauxhall. They each formed the back of one `arbour' or supper box, an ornate wooden shelter formed of two side walls and a roof, framing picturesque views through the Gardens, where guests could take supper. At a certain moment in the evening's entertainment, the paintings were `let fall' to enclose the diners at the back. The front was left permanently open for the fashionable occupants to view and be viewed.

Subjects Depicted
As was appropriate for a pleasure garden, Francis Hayman was commissioned to paint scenes of people enjoying themselves in harmless sports and pastimes. In this part of the series of supper box pictures, he chose `children's games.' The sight of children sliding and playing on the ice was very frequent in the first half of the 18th century. The climate then was a cycle of hot summers and bitterly cold winters, so cold indeed that the Thames was frequently frozen over.

People
Francis Hayman began as a scene painter, then turned to portraiture. His first major decorative commission consisted of these large paintings at Spring Gardens, Vauxhall. The commission came from Hayman's patron, the entrepreneur Jonathan Tyers (died 1767), who held the lease on Spring Gardens and was responsible for opening them to the public in 1732.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Oil Painting
  • Frames (Furnishings)
Materials and Techniques
oil on canvas
Brief Description
Francis Hayman (1707/8-1776), Decorative painting for a supper-box at Vauxhall Gardens, London: "Sliding on Ice" [Also called "The Humorous Diversion of Sliding on the Ice"]. London, 1741-1742.
Physical Description
Landscape format oil painting showing figures sliding on an iced-over pond.
Dimensions
  • Unframed height: 139cm
  • Width: 244cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 14/01/1999 by LM/NC 12cms have been added either side to accommodate frame ie 6cm each side
Style
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Supper boxes, rather like boxes at the theatre, provided private space for visitors. The paintings of rustic amusements and children's games were in keeping with the music and dancing that the Gardens offered. The use of them at Vauxhall was a novelty, bringing the refinement of art to a place of popular entertainment.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support
Object history
Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund, 1947



Historical significance: Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, Published in association with English Heritage (the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) and Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987, p.111-2, cat. no. 33.



Full Citation:



"33. SLIDING UPON THE ICE C. 1741-2 Oil on canvas, 55 x 96 (139.7 x 243.8)

Prov: painted for Vauxhall Gardens; Earl of Lonsdale; his sale, Lowther Castle, by Maple & Co., 30 April 1947 (1902); bt. Baron Hugo von Grundherr; acquired by the V & A in 1947



Engr: by R. Parr, published 23 May 1743



Coll: London, Victoria & Albert Museum



Seasonal pastimes provided the subject matter for several of the Vauxhall pictures (see cat. no. 30). As Joseph Strutt noted in 1830 'sliding upon the ice appears to have been a very favourite pastime among the youth of this country in former times; at present the use of skates is so generally diffused throughout the kingdom that sliding is but little practised, except by children and such as cannot afford to purchase them'.(1)



T. J. Edelstein has argued that the iconography of those supper box paintings depicting games of chance and risk can be traced back to the moral epigrams in traditional emblem books,(2) and John Lockman, who composed the following verses that appeared beneath Parr's engraving of this picture, must have been aware of that tradition:



Shew what Man in life's maturer Course,

An Infant still in purpose - but a Worse;

He trips his foremost down with joy of mind,

Nor sees th'impending danger from behind.



The viewer is presumably meant to associate a life of futile pleasure with ultimate disaster.



Despite recent conservation, Sliding upon the Ice is typical of the poor condition of most of the surviving supper box pictures. It is very thinly painted, rather in the manner of the stage scenery with which Hayman began his career, but has suffered extensively from the re-touching and overpainting that was done regularly to prepare the pictures for the new season in the open-air at Vauxhall.



Endnotes:

1) Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (London, 1830) p.86.



2) Yale 1983, p. 28."
Historical context
This painting is one of seven in the V&A by Francis Hayman which relate to Hayman's work for the Vauxhall Gardens. See 'Historical Context' note on Museum Number P.12-1947 [May Day or The Milkmaid's Garland] for information about Hayman and the Vauxhall Gardens, from Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, Published in association with English Heritage (the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) and Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987, Page 107-9.
Summary
Object Type
This painting was one of 50 supper box pictures at Spring Gardens, Vauxhall. They each formed the back of one `arbour' or supper box, an ornate wooden shelter formed of two side walls and a roof, framing picturesque views through the Gardens, where guests could take supper. At a certain moment in the evening's entertainment, the paintings were `let fall' to enclose the diners at the back. The front was left permanently open for the fashionable occupants to view and be viewed.

Subjects Depicted
As was appropriate for a pleasure garden, Francis Hayman was commissioned to paint scenes of people enjoying themselves in harmless sports and pastimes. In this part of the series of supper box pictures, he chose `children's games.' The sight of children sliding and playing on the ice was very frequent in the first half of the 18th century. The climate then was a cycle of hot summers and bitterly cold winters, so cold indeed that the Thames was frequently frozen over.

People
Francis Hayman began as a scene painter, then turned to portraiture. His first major decorative commission consisted of these large paintings at Spring Gardens, Vauxhall. The commission came from Hayman's patron, the entrepreneur Jonathan Tyers (died 1767), who held the lease on Spring Gardens and was responsible for opening them to the public in 1732.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, Published in association with English Heritage (the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) and Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987; including the following entries: Checklist of Paintings, Drawings, Book Illustrations and Prints", pages 171-193: Decorative Paintings for Vauxhall Gardens, pages 180-182, numbers 171-217: "The following list consists of the supper box paintings designed by Hayman and others and executed by Hayman with his studio assistants c.1741-2. The later paintings in the Prince of Wales's Pavilion and in the annexe to the Rotunda have been listed under HISTORY PAINTINGS." Of the 47 works listed by Brian Allen, about 15 survive, of which 7 are in the V&A: No.173 - [then "Untraced"] Museum number E.879-1994] No.179 - Museum number P.70-1986 No.191 - Museum number P.13-1947 (Also Allen, cat. no. 33, p.111-112) No.196 - Museum number P.29-1954 No.200 - Museum number P.69-1986 No.205 - Museum number P.68-1986 No.208 - Museum number P.12-1947 (Also Allen, cat. no. 30, p.109-110) This painting is no.191
  • Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, Published in association with English Heritage (the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) and Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987. . Catalogue number 33, pp.111-112. For full citation see "History" note.
  • Lawrence Gowing, Hogarth, Hayman, and the Vauxhall Decorations, in The Burlington Magazine, XCV, January 1953, pp.4-19. DECORATIONS RECORDED AT THE GARDENS A. The Supper Boxes "... The Grove is bounded by gravel walks, and a considerable number of pavilions or alcoves, ornamented with paintings from the designs of Mr Hayman and Mr. Hogarth, on subjects admirably adapted to the place..." (The Ambulator, 1774, p.181)*. These alcoves, the supper boxes, extended along the north side of the Grove, the east and the south, from which a further short row ran southward. The boxes and their decorations are listed in... The Ambulator in this order; the same order, and the titles given by The Ambulator will be followed here. * The Ambulator; or, the Stranger's Companion in a tour Round London... comprehending Catalogues of the Pictures by Eminent Artists. London (Bew) [1774], p.180 ff., [2nd edition, 1782], p.193 ff. One of many lists of the pictures, printed in guides. This is the fullest of these guides. [From section 2 of 5 areas of Vauxhall described by Gowing following The Ambulator] [Museum number P.13-1947]. " ' Returning to the grove where we shall find the remainder of the boxes and paintings better than those heretofore seen... the pavilions are decorated with the following pictures':" "24 '2. Sliding on the ice' (Fig.17) Engr. ... 'F. Hayman pinx. R. Parr sculp... 1743'.... Lowther sale 1947, lot 1902. Victoria & Albert Museum. 55 x 96 in. A preparatory drawing is in the collection of the late H. Reitlinger. The style in which the decoration is executed, though it sufficiently expresses the freshness and vigour of the invention, is in detail coarse and linear: the picture appears to have been painted by an assistant from Hayman's drawing."
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings, Accessions 1947, London: HMSO, 1950.
Collection
Accession Number
P.13-1947

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL