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Farmer Giles and his Wife shewing off their daughter Betty to their Neighbours, on her return from School

Print
1/1/1809
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The theme of the humble family aspiring to a higher social position was a common one in eighteenth and early-nineteenth century caricature. In this print, a farmer's family has sent their daughter to a boarding school instead of keeping her at home to learn the ways of the farm. Now returned, they have invited neighbours to hear the girl play piano and sing, and to look through her drawings - music, drawing, embroidery, dancing and other 'accomplishments' were the typical skills taught in most girls' schools at this time.

The interior of their drawing room, and the dress of all assembled in it, symbolise the gaucheness and vanity of the farmer's newly-prosperous family. The room is furnished with fashionable and luxurious furniture, including a floor carpet, marble fireplace and gilded candle sconces. On the left-hand wall is a picture of a farm in a gilt frame, titled 'Cheese Farm'. On the centre wall hangs an embroidered sampler, also framed, signed by 'Betty Giles aged 16. 1808. Cheese Hall'. The farm has been restyled as a genteel 'hall' to satisfy the aspirations of the family. However, in a nod to their rustic origins, the farmer, his wife and their guests all wear clothing in a style at least ten years out of date. The bored-looking seated gentleman still wears an old-fashioned powdered wig, and the older women sitting around the card table wear the low-waisted gowns and fichus of the 1790s. Only Betty, seated at the piano, and another young girl, wear the high-waisted gowns and simple hairstyles of the period.


Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleFarmer Giles and his Wife shewing off their daughter Betty to their Neighbours, on her return from School (published title)
Materials and techniques
Hand-coloured etching
Brief description
Satirical print, 'Farmer Giles and his Wife shewing off their daughter Betty to their Neighbours, on her return from School', by James Gillray, London, 1809
Physical description
A fashionably-furnished drawing room interior, at night, with candles lit and curtains drawn. On the left, a young woman dressed in the latest style plays at a pianoforte. A younger girl stands next to her, while her parents stand behind with admiring glances. On the right, at the rear, three older women sit around a card table, two gossiping and one asleep; and in front of them a man in a brown suit and a wig sits alone on a chair. A small servant boy carries in a tray of wine and glasses.
Dimensions
  • Height: 31.8cm
  • Width: 47.6cm
Dimensions are for sheet
Credit line
Bequeathed by John Jones
Object history
Object originally bound in a guard-book containing one hundred and fifteen caricatures by T. Rowlandson, W. Heath, J. Gillray, R. Dighton, G. Cruikshank and others
Summary
The theme of the humble family aspiring to a higher social position was a common one in eighteenth and early-nineteenth century caricature. In this print, a farmer's family has sent their daughter to a boarding school instead of keeping her at home to learn the ways of the farm. Now returned, they have invited neighbours to hear the girl play piano and sing, and to look through her drawings - music, drawing, embroidery, dancing and other 'accomplishments' were the typical skills taught in most girls' schools at this time.

The interior of their drawing room, and the dress of all assembled in it, symbolise the gaucheness and vanity of the farmer's newly-prosperous family. The room is furnished with fashionable and luxurious furniture, including a floor carpet, marble fireplace and gilded candle sconces. On the left-hand wall is a picture of a farm in a gilt frame, titled 'Cheese Farm'. On the centre wall hangs an embroidered sampler, also framed, signed by 'Betty Giles aged 16. 1808. Cheese Hall'. The farm has been restyled as a genteel 'hall' to satisfy the aspirations of the family. However, in a nod to their rustic origins, the farmer, his wife and their guests all wear clothing in a style at least ten years out of date. The bored-looking seated gentleman still wears an old-fashioned powdered wig, and the older women sitting around the card table wear the low-waisted gowns and fichus of the 1790s. Only Betty, seated at the piano, and another young girl, wear the high-waisted gowns and simple hairstyles of the period.
Collection
Accession number
1232:73-1882

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Record createdJune 8, 2009
Record URL
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