Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Humphrey Midshipmen


The Interior of a Midshipman's Birth

17 x 10 inches

This scarce caricature gives us a glimpse below deck on board a merchant ship during the reign of George IV. Thirteen midshipmen are seen around a table attended by a Negro servant. We are given the distinct impression that a fair amount of grog has been consumed as the scene is one of frivolity and mischief. One sailor dances the hornpipe accompanied by a flute and a violin. Another sets fire to his sleeping comrade's eyelashes with a lighted cigar and others play cards and wager bets. By this period midshipmen were usually apprenticed officers with several years' experience on board ship. These sailors would, therefore, be aspirational for career advancement and social ranking. George and Heather Humphrey ran one of the most successful printing and publishing houses of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By the time this caricature was produced they had moved to new premises in St. James's Street where crowds would gather outside each morning to see the latest caricatures pasted to the inside of the shop window.


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