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Songsheet cover - <i>Quite too Utterly Utter</i>
  • Quite too Utterly Utter
    Concanen, Alfred, born 1835 - died 1886
  • Enlarge image

Quite too Utterly Utter

  • Object:

    Songsheet cover

  • Date:

    ca. 1881 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Concanen, Alfred, born 1835 - died 1886 (lithographer)
    Stannard & Son (printer)
    Hopwood & Crew (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Gabrielle Enthoven Collection

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Music sheet publishing was a lucrative business in the second half of the 19th century when piano ownership became a status symbol, enabling people to play popular music at home. Publishers realised that a good illustration on the cover could sell thousands of sheets, and in the 1860s and 1870s an artist often received as much as £20 for an illustration. Alfred Concanen (1835-1886), a staff illustrator for the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, was one of the most versatile and prolific of all Victorian music sheet illustrators. His work is notable for its humorous observation and detail. Robert Coote (active 1851-1900) was a musician, lyricist and composer of popular songs.

Aestheticism, a serious artistic movement of the 1870s, is perhaps better remembered for the satires upon it than for its original tenets. This cover satirises the aesthete's hair style, velvet jacket and cravat, as well as the fashionable taste for the sunflower, Japanese blue and white pottery, bamboo, and wallpaper featuring the crane, the Japanese national bird, and the carp, a fish with symbolic associations in Japan.

In Gilbert and Sullivan's opera, Patience, Act II, Angela and Saphir admire the Aesthetic poses made by the Major, Duke and Colonel. Saphir: 'The immortal fire has descended upon them, and they are of the Inner Brotherhood - perceptively intense and consummately utter'... Saphir: 'They are indeed jolly utter'. 'Utter' was also used satirically in references to Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). This may have given rise to the comic use of the word, especially since Bunthorne, the poet in Patience, is modelled on Wilde.

Alfred Concanen was born in London, lived for some of his life in Bloomsbury, London, and worked from studios in Frith Street. Many of his music sheet covers are remarkable for their witty illustrations of London scenes and characters.


ca. 1881 (made)


Concanen, Alfred, born 1835 - died 1886 (lithographer)
Stannard & Son (printer)
Hopwood & Crew (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph


Height: 36 cm unmounted, Width: 26 cm unmounted

Object history note

Designed by Alfred Concanen (born in London, 1835, died in 1886) for the song written and composed by Robert Coote (active 1851-1900); published by Hopwood & Crew, London; printed by Stannard & Sons. BG List: A. BG Display Note: THEMES.27OBJECT FOR ROTATION

Descriptive line

Cover for sheet music for the 'New Aesthetical Roundelay', 'Quite Too Utterly Utter', designed by Alfred Concanen, song written by Robert Coote, published by Hopwood & Crew, 42, New Bond St., printed by Stannard & Sons, about 1881

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Aestheticism was parodied in magazines, newspapers and theatrical performances. This songsheet combines some of the strongest characteristics of the style, exaggerating the interest in blue and white pottery, sunflowers, the fashionable division of walls into three horizontal bands. It also ridicules the affected manner and language of the gentleman depicted. [27/03/2003]


Designs; Entertainment & Leisure; British Galleries


Theatre and Performance Collection

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