Not currently on display at the V&A

Mifs Nancy Dawson

Print
early 19th century (printed and published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Aquatint coloured by hand
Brief Description
Nancy Dawson. Aquatint coloured by hand 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.
Dimensions
  • Right hand side height: 444mm
  • Lower edge width: 293mm
Credit line
Given by Dame Marie Rambert
Object history
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
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.
Production
Printed for Robert Sayer, Map and Printseller at the Golden Buck near Serjeants Inn Fleet Street
Subject depicted
Summary
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.
Collection
Accession Number
E.4968-1968

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record createdAugust 31, 2004
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