Victorian caricature and classicism: Picturing the London water crisis

  • Shelley Wood Cordulack


This study assesses Victorian artistic response to the crisis of the poor quality of Victorian London's water supply—a situation exacerbated by comparison of London to the ancient capitals, most notably Rome, and water's classical associations with beauty, purity, and bounty. Two major and distinct responses emerge: Victorian caricature and Victorian classicism. Artists from both camps summoned the classical tradition to allude to the irony of classical ideal versus contemporary reality. In low Victorian art the truth lay in the caricature of the classical image. In high Victorian art the truth lay in the reality that the classical image could only serve to index. To be sure, the classical tradition furnished ample material through which the artist might allow a myth, for example, to allude subtly to a social problem, and through idealization, to suggest a powerful contrast between myth and reality. Thus the artist could “strike” with the requisite decorum and without appearing resistant to the artistic and socio-political establishment.


Classical Tradition British Museum Water Company Royal Academy Water Trickle 
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  1. 1.
    “Paris Improved” Household Words 12 (17 November 1855), 361, 365. Household Words was a weekly journal funded and edited by Dickens himself between 1850 and 1859. According to Dickens on the first page of the first volume, the journal was meant to provide uplifting words that would become “household” thoughts for readers of all classes. Articles were unsigned with Dickens listed as the “Conductor”. The social and political background of this subject is detailed in Bill Luckin, Pollution and Control: A Social History of the Thames in the Nineteenth Century (Bristol: Adam Hilger, 1986), Asok Mukhopadyay Politics of Water Supply (Calcutta: The World Press Private Ltd., 1981), H.W. Dickinson, Water Supply of Greater London (London: Newcomen Society, 1954), and Francis Sheppard, Chapter 7, “Public Health,” in: Sheppard, London 1808–1870: The Infernal Wen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 247–96.Google Scholar
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    For example, the author of “Cholera Poison” in the Chambers Journal of Popular Literature (14 January 1854), 20, refers to London as a modern Babylon. In fact, even earlier in the nineteenth century, “London was becoming commonly known as ‘the New Babylon’” William Feaver, The Art of John Martin [Oxford: Clarendon, 1975], 44): “If [the Thames] were rendered unnavigable, London would soon become a heap of ruins, like Nineveh or Babylon” (The Picture of London for 1806, ed.; and publ. Richard Phillips [London, 1806], 301). Comparisons between nineteenth-century London and ancient Rome appeared in a variety of contexts, such as the internal moral corruption of Rome emphasized in Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (first published in 1776–88; the book was re-published in 1838–39, 1848, 1854–55, 1862, 1869, and 1872). See also John Stores Smith, Social Aspects (London, 1850), 13; J.C. Eustace, Tour through Italy (London, 1813), I, xxxii; the anonymous poem “The Bridging and Embanking of the Thames,” Art Journal 13 (1861), 296; Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold, London: A Pilgrimage (London: Grant, 1872; reissued 1968), 1st page C. II; G.V. Poore, London (Ancient and Modern) from the Sanitary and Medical Point of View (Cassell, 1889), 7, 10; Marianne Dale, “The Women of Imperial Rome and English Women of Today,” Westminster Review 141 (May 1894), 490–502; John Simon, English Sanitary Institutions (London: John Murray, 1897), 20–21, and contemporary references cited in regard to the work of Lawrence Alma-Tadema below (p. 572). Between the years 1881 and 1884 Walter Pater wrote Marius the Epicurean, an account of the fictional character, Marius, who lived in second-century Rome. At one point Marius sees the physician Galen at the well. The author points out that the water, “when received into the mouth, in consequence of its entire freedom from adhering organic matter, was more like a draught of wonderfully pure air than water” (New York, Macmillan, 1901, p. 25).—For historical and “apocalyptic” comparisons of Roman and future British (esp. London) ruins cf. Christopher Woodward, In Ruins (New York: Pantheon, 2001), 1–2, 5, 178–81.Google Scholar
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    A late nineteenth-century writer reported that Leech attended the Charterhouse School in London, “but was not distinguished at school as a classical scholar, and Latin verses in particular proved so serious a stumbling-block that he always got a schoolfellow to do them for him.” The same source added that in 1833 Leech had been apprenticed to an eccentric man by the name of Bramley Whittle who “delighted in posing before his amused pupils in the character of ‘The Dying Gladiator’, ‘Hercules’, and other antique statues”, and that Leech himself attended a fancy dress ball wearing a “classic tunic” and laurel wreath, with the “Greek ideal… brought into further discomfiture by a pair of spectacles and an exceedingly neat umbrella.” Graham Everitt, English Caricaturists and Graphic Humorists of the Nineteenth Century (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1972; first published in 1885), 277, 279, and Shirley Brooks in Everitt, op. cit., English Caricaturists and Graphic Humorists of the Nineteenth Century (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1972; first published in 1885), 288.Google Scholar
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    For example, both Ford Madox Brown and Lawrence Alma-Tadema studied at the Antwerp Academy; Frederic Leighton's early training was at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence; John Waterhouse studied at the Royal Academy School, as did George Frederick Watts for a short time.Google Scholar
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    For inclusive discussions of Victorian art and classicism, see Richard Jenkyns, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), and Idem, Richard Jenkyns, Dignity and Decadence (London: HarperCollins, 1991), as well as Frank M. Turner, The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981). Academic training consisted of one or more of the following: travel abroad, usually to Rome (see in general, e.g., Edward Chaney, The evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural Relations since the Renaissance [London & Portland, OR: Cass, 1998]) learning to render the nude figure and drapery, both from the live model and from Greek and Roman antiquities available at the British Museum or in plaster cast form; a study of history and the masters, including Raphael and Michelangelo (see Lene Østermark-Johansen, Sweetness and Strength. The Reception of Michelangelo in Victorian Britain [Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1998]) theory, and perspective; and meticulous drawing and finished detail. Honorary members of the Academy included Professors of Ancient History and Literature (Sidney Hutchison, The History of the Royal Academy [New York: Taplinger, 1968], 237).Google Scholar
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    The caricature was an illustration, to a broadsheet first published in 1828. These broadsheets were typically displayed in shop windows. Cruikshank was an artist of humble origins, and although widely read, was educated at home and did not study at the Academy. The number of his works that include classical reference is but a small fraction of his large body of work and long career. In these few works, Cruikshank may have been influenced by his predecessor Gillray or by his more learned acquaintances William Hone, Pierce Egan, or Mr. Bond, keeper of the Ancient Manuscripts at the British Museum (Cruikshank in Blanchard Jerrold, The Life of George Cruikshank vol. I [London: Chatto and Windus, 1882], 229). He accepted commissions often based upon others' writings and editorials (this particular one perhaps by John Wright as M. Dorothy George suggests in vol. XI of the Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires [London: British Museum, 1954], 584), although as his biographer comments, his own “sympathies were with the people” (Jerrold, op. cit., The Life of George Cruikshank vol. II, 90). The title of the present caricature may allude to John Locke's 1690 Two Treatises of Government, which attacked the theory of the divine right of kings and supported the sovereignty of the people. The book's epigraph was SALUS POPULI SUPREMA LEX ESTO (from Cicero, De legibus III. 3.8).Google Scholar
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    The Times (14 September 1854), 8.Google Scholar
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    At a time when Londoners were dumping sewage directly into the Thames, Martin wrote: “Is it not probable that a too ignorant waste of manure has caused the richest and most fertile countries such as Egypt, Assyria the Holy Land, the South of Italy &c to become barren as they now are?” (in Feaver, op. cit. [above, n. 2],, 71). William Feaver, the author of the principal monograph on Martin, says that “Martin attempted to follow up the archaeologists and historians in salvaging long-lost capitals, setting them out as though he were planning to reconstruct those places, not beside the Tigris or Euphrates, but along the banks of the Thames” (op. cit. [above, n. 2], Art Journal 13 (1861), 42).Google Scholar
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    Feaver, op. cit. (abnove, n. 2),, 122 220, n. 42. Feaver (42) states that for his Fall of Babylon Martin used “The Historical Accounts from Herodotus, B.I. Diod Sic. B.2. Strabo &c.,” and owned the edition by The Revd. W. Beloe, Herodotus Translated from the Greek (2nd ed., 4 vols., London: Leigh and S. Southeby, 1806), For Herodotus on the relationship of ancient capitals and their rivers, see Herodotus, [Tigris] 1.189, 1.193, 2.150, 5.52, 6.20; [Euphrates] 1.180, 1.185, 1.191, 5.52; [Peneus] 7.20, 7.128, 7.173; and the many references to the Nile in Book 2).Google Scholar
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    Newton actually dug a well with a pump and installed a rainwater tank (T. F. Reddaway, “London in the Nineteenth Century: The Fight for a Water Supply,”, The Nineteenth Century and After 148 [August 1950], 120), but kept his feelings on the water issue separate from his art. Newton was knighted in 1837 in conjunction with his appointment as miniature painter to Queen Victoria.Google Scholar
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    In addition to the connection between ancient and modern life, Turner was interested in the causes of parliamentary, reform, the abolition of slavery, religious toleration, the establishment of a national fire police, and Greek independence around this time— “broadly humanitarian issues… [that] coexisted in Turner with a fierce and proud patriotism… What was more important… was his aspiration to brig political and social themes into the centre of landscape art; but it was an aspiration which remained almost entirely lost on his public” John Gage, J. W. Turner: ‘A Wonderful Range of Mind’ (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987], 215–16, 233).Google Scholar
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    “A Hand-Book to the Thames,” Punch 17 (1849), 59. The reference is to a series of hand-books (guidebooks) published by John Murray that provided travelers with information about the people, landscape, and antiquities of a particular region. The term “antiquarian” is used here snidely to challenge the readership and the Sanitary Commissioners to direct their attention to reality.Google Scholar
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    “Punch's Heathen Mythology. Chapter XIII.—Touching, Nepture,” Puch 4 (1843), 160. In 1843 “Punch's Heathen Mythology” was written by Gilbert Abbott À Beckett (1811–1856). These chapters included (in chronological order within Volume 4) “Cosmogony”, “The Ups and Downs of Olympus”, “All About Love,” “Jupiter,” “Apollo”, “Bacchus”, “Ceres”, “Diana”, “Juno”, “Mars”, “Mercury”, “Minerva”, “Momus”, “Neptune”, “Pluto”, “Vesta and Vestals”, and “Vulcan”. W.H. Wills was the author of similar chapters in Volume 3 entitled “Punch's Comic Mythology” (on “The Apple of Discord”, “The Judgement of Paris,” “Acis and Galatea”, “The Abduction of Proserpine”, and “The Early History of Mercury”). The “Heathen Mythology” was a “grab bag of modernized, mock-didactic, scenes and anecdotes… a lightweight sendup of Ovidian lore…” (Richard Altick, op. cit. [above, n. 7], Punch: The Lively Youth of a British Institution 1841–1851 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1997, 99–100).Google Scholar
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    I am grateful to Mardell O'Brien, Technical Specialist, and Dr. Bruce Swan, Librarian, of the Classics Library at the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign for all their valuable and enthusiastic help, and most particularly for their assistance in sorting out information regarding the Roman practice of referring to rivers as “Father” (“Pater”). This practice goes at least as far back as Ennius: Teque pater Tiberine tuo cum flumine sancto (see Ennius, Annals, I 54 Vahlen=frgt. I xxii Skutsch [The Annals of Quintus Ennius, ed. O. Skutsch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985 ), 72]). The reference to the personification of the Tiber as father was also popular with Augustan Age and later authors: (Macrobius, Saturnalia 6,1,12; Vergil, Aeneid 8, 72; Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 14, 376 Z. 17; Livy 2,20,11 as cited in G. Wissowa, “Tiberinus,” in: Ausführliches Lexikon der Griechischen und Römischen Mythologie, ed. W. H. Roscher, vol. 5 (Leipzig: Teubner, 1924), 933. See also Joël Le Gall, Recherches sur le culte du Tibre (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1953), 38–41, and by the same author, Le Tibre: Fleuve de Rome dans l'antiquité (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1953). Although the rivers were fathers in ancient Greece, they seem not to, have been addressed as “Father” (as was Oceanus) in Greek literature (see Harry Brewster, River Gods of Greece: Myths and Mountain Waters in the Hellenic World [London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1997] O. Waser, “Flussgötter,” in: Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. Georg Wissowa, vol. VI, pt. 2 [Stuttgart: Metzler, 1909], 2791–2815; and C.F.H. Bruchmann, Epitheta deorum, supplement 1 to Ausführliches Lexikon der Griechischen und Römischen Mythologie, ed. W.H. Roscher [Leipzig: Teubner, 1893], 222–23).Google Scholar
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    James Barry's painting was one of a series of six large murals of oil on canvas entitled Progress of Human Culture. The murals were painted in 1777–84 for the Great Room of Robert Adams's Adelphi house (part of a group of terraced houses designed by the brothers Robert, James, and William Adam) of the Society of Arts, John Adam, Street, London. They are still in situ today. See The Works of James Barry, ed. E. Fryer, 2 vols. (London: Printed by J. M'Creery for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1809); D.G.C. Allan, “The Progress of Human Culture and Knowledge,” Connoisseur 186, no. 747 (June 1974), 100–09, 188, and no. 756 (February 1975), 98–107; W. L. Pressly, The Life and Art of James Barry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981); and Idem, W. L. Pressly, “A Chapel of Natural and Revealed Religion: James Barry's Series for the Society's Great Room Reinterpreted,” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts (1984), 543–46, 634–37, 693–95.Google Scholar
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    These two images were strangely concurrent, although each figure is accompanied by different attibutes. George Richardson's two-volume translation of Ripa's Iconology first appeared in 1777–79 (published in London by G. Scott), exctly, when Barry was working on his studies for The Triumph of the Thames. It is available, in a reprinted edition, New York and London: Garland, 1979. Richardson's motive in adding the Thames emblem was an instance of British pride. He pointed out that Ripa had “take[n] no notice of this rich and navigable river… famous all over the world” (vol. 1, 36). Barry professed a disapproval of Ripa and emblem books, and does not mention Richardson (Works, I, 468). In the major monograph on Barry, William Pressly (op. cit. [above, n. 23], The Life and Art of James Barry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981, 101–05, 201) maintains that Barry's “combination of allegory and history was…original,” but that the “principal visual source”, was Francis Hayman's 1765 The Triumph of Britannia, that the figure of the Thames derives from Michelangelo's Adam from The Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, and that Barry associated the painting with, an excerpt from an English rather than a classical text, “Cooper's Hill,” a 1642 poem by Sir John Denham (see The Poetical Works of Sir John Denham, ed. Theodore Banks [New Haven: Yale University Press and Archon Books, 1969], 62–89, and Brendan O Hehir, Expans'd Hieroglyphicks: A, Critical Edition of Sir John Denham's “Cooper Hill” [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969] for a discussion of antique references). Denham's poem makes no reference to a river god, but compares the Thames to a wise king, and calls for “harmony during the English Civil War” as Barry's painting “can be interpreted as a similar plea made during the years of the American Revolution”. Pressly does not say, however, where Barry may have derived the idea to paint an allegorical figure specifically representing the Thames (which the painter himself identifies as “Father Thames” in his explanation of the picture [Works II, 332]). I am also grateful to Mireille Galinou of the Museum of London for bringing to my attention a river god designed by John Bacon for Coade and Sealy's Artificial Stone Manufactory, the most expensive listing in the company's 1784 catalogue of architectural ornament (Guildhall Library, London).Google Scholar
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    Monti began his studies in Milan and at the Imperial Academy, where he won a Gold Medal for his Alexander Taming Bucephalus. He lived, in England 1848–81, exhibiting at the Royal Academy 1854–60. Many of his works dealth with antique subject matter. See entries in Rupert Gunnis The Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660–1851 (London: Abbey, 1969), 262 and Maurice Grant, Dictionary of British Sculptors (London: Salisbury Square 1953), 170. The statue of Father Thames, which has been neither reproduced nor written about, was created for the 1851 Exhibition, perhaps even as an allusion to the water that visitors were forced to drink from specially-installed drinking fountains, in as much as alcohol had been banned from the premises as part of the Temperance movement. After the Exhibition, the statue was moved to Thames Head. The statue is now at St. John's Lock near Lechlade (the highest and first lock on the Thames). According to Alicia Gurney, Curator of the Thames River and Rowing Museum, no sign of vandalism has been noted.Google Scholar
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    “Metropolitan Sanitary Association,” Illustrated London News 18 (17, May 1851), 417–18. That same year Cruikshank had been elected vice-president of the London Temperance League (see in general, e. g., Lilian Lewis Shiman, Crusade against Drink in Victorian England [New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988]); the water issue was now more related to temperance—drinking water, not alcohol—than to the state of the drinking water itself, which was more the concern of Dickens and the others.Google Scholar
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    Ibid. “Metropolitan Sanitary Association,” Illustrated London News 18 (17 May 1851), The Earl's address, repeated in the articles, was brief, and accompanied by only a few toasts and monetary reports. Otherwise there was much eating, drinking, and general merriment.Google Scholar
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    Punch 21 (1852), 181–82.Google Scholar
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    “Our Last Parochial War,” Household Words 7 (21 May 1853), 265–70.Google Scholar
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    “The Water Kings,” Punch 18 (1850), 62.Google Scholar
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    As of 1856 the British Museum displayed a small statue of Aphrodite surrounded by an open scallop shell (see Plate XXXVII, D 89 from H.B. Walters, Catalogue of the Terracottas in the Department of Geek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum [London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1903], 311). To be sure, the Christian tradition contributed its own associations with water such as Rebecca at the Well or the Woman from Samaria. Indeed, many water fountains were located in the proximity of the church. But the fact remains that many public drinking fountains in London were classically inspired. For additional examples, see Philip Davies, Troughs and Drinking Fountains (London: Chatto and Windus, 1989). One such example is even based upon the Choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens, while other more simple designs resemble ancient Greek funerary monuments with their application of the stele format crowned with anthemia.Google Scholar
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    See Lynda Nead, Myths of Sexuality (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988).Google Scholar
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    For a full discussion of this painting in particular, see Linda Nochlin, “Lost and Found: Once More the Fallen Woman,” in: Women, Art and Power and Other Essays, ed. Linda Nochlin (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 57–85.Google Scholar
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    However, he later spoke out against genre painting and middle-class industrialist patronage of art (“English Painting in 1862,” Fine Arts Quarterly Review [May 1863], 14–15).Google Scholar
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    Christopher Wood, Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters 1860–1914 (London: Constable, 1983), 86. Wood further points out that the London Quarterly Review complained that Watts's attempts at social realism were art “trying to do the work of literature and doing it badly.” Found Drowned was on view in Watts's gallery in Little Holland House later in his life, as well as exhibited at London's Whitechapel Gallery for the poor in the East End.Google Scholar
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    George Frederick Watts in M.S. Watts, George Frederick Watts: The Annals of an Artist's Life, vol. 1 (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1913), 260.Google Scholar
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    See A.H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum (London: Longmans, 1904), vol. III, #1706 p. 79 (=M. J. Vermaseren, Corpus cultus Cybelae Attidisque [CCCA], vol. VII. Musea et collectiones privatae, Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'Empire Romain 50.7 [Leiden: Brill, 1977], #70 p. 22).Google Scholar
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    Indeed, the origin of the modern sense of the word “cartoon” comes from Punch as it sarcastically responded to these specific cartoons for the Houses of Parliament in 1843. Says. M.H. Spielmann in The History of “Punch” ([New York: Greenwood, 1969; Originally published London: Cassell, 1895], 186–88), “these desings [for the Houses of Parliament] handled the loftiest subjects, executed in the most elevated spirit of the highest art … It was not in nature for Punch to allow so excellent an opportunity to pass by without taking sarcastic advantage of it.”Google Scholar
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    Benjamin Disraeli, “Metropolis Local Management Act Amendment Bill,” in the House of Commons on 15 July 1858 in Hansard's Parliamentary Debates (London: Buck, 1858), 1508. Five years earlier a writer calling himself “Quondam” had called attention to London's lack of proper drainage by comparing the flooding at London Bridge to a “Stygian Lake” and calling the London Dock as “black as Acheron” (“Sewage and Water”, The Builder 11 no. 524 [19 February 1853], 119).Google Scholar
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    Roy Porter, London: A Social History (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1998), 263; “Great Stink”, The London Encyclopedia, ed. Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert (London: Macmillan, 1992), 330; Stephen Halliday, The Great Stink of London (London: Sutton, 1999), 17.Google Scholar
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    “Quoth Father Thames”, Punch 37 (23 July 1859), 33.Google Scholar
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    Some have described the action of the painting as the laying of a water main; others have described a sewer line. Gerard Curtis discusses this in “Ford Madox Brown's Work: An Iconographic Analysis,” Art Bulletin 74 (1992), 623, n.7.Google Scholar
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    The original of this work is in the British Museum's Department of Prints and Drawings, catalogued under ‘Foreigners working in England: Period III’, Solander Box 17D. It is reproduced in Lindsay Stainton, British Landscape Watercolours 1600–1860 (London: British Museum, 1985), 148c, 65–66.Google Scholar
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    “Views near London so often become ‘dissolving’ views nowadays, that I can hardly affirm that this most romantic little river is not now arched over for ‘sanitary purposes …’” Ford M. Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown: A Record of His Life and Work (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1896), 101. In the nineteenth century “dissolving views” referred to pictures produced on a screen by a magic lantern, one picture gradually disappearing, while another came into view.Google Scholar
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  48. 48.
    Ibid., Ford, 112.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    In addition to his sermons and lectures, Kingsley's writings that deal with the issue of water supply include his fiction pieces Yeast (1848), Alton Locke (1849–51), and Water Babies (1862–3); and his articles on The Water Supply of London (1850) and Sanitary and Social Lectures and Essays (1880).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Brown quoted in Hueffer, op. cit. ford, 189.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Celina Fox, Londoners (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 180.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    “Supply of Water to the Metropolis”, Edinburgh Review 91 (April 1850), 389.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Georgiana Burne-Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones (New York: Blom, 1971), 309.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ruskin, Fors Clavigera (Letter 5, May 1871, §14), in: The Works of John Ruskin, ed. Cook and Wedderburn (above, n. 42), vol. XXVII (1907), 90.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    A very similar cartoon appeared much later in the October 11, 1890 Punch with the County Council in the guise of Hercules. His right hand holds his club down-turned and behind his back, while his left hand—the one with the real power—offers a bag of money to the water companies pictured as a giant Hydra emerging from the river.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    A.L. Baldry, “The Collection of George McCulloch, Esq.,” Art Journal (1883), 71–72.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    “Our Insane-itary Guide to the Health Exhibition. Part IX.—An Odd Corner and the Water Companies,” Punch 87 (9 August 1884), 65.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    “The Town. No. VIII.—The River,” Punch 87 (2 August 1884), 52. Principal classical sources for the rivers in Hades includes Hower, Odyssey, 10.513–15, 361, 383–403, 775–806; Herodotus, History, 6.74; Plato, Phaedo 112–14C; Vergil, Aeneid, 6; Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.434–64, 7.408–19, 10.15–77. See also Dante Alighieri, Inferno, 7.100–08, 14.100–20, and passim. For a brief history of references to the river Styx, see Harry Brewster, op. cit. (above, n. 22), River Gods of Greece: Myths and Mountain Waters in the Hellenic World [London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1997., 71.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    The painting is currently untraced, but is reproduced in black and white in P.G. Konody, The Art of Walter Crane (London: Bell, 1902).Google Scholar
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  61. 61.
    For a host of specific antique references to purity and water, see Brewster, op. cit. (above, n. 22). See also Garrett Fagan, Bathing Public in the Roman World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999) (reviewed in this journal by Werner Heinz, “Von überwärmungsbädern und Prostitution: Römisches Badewesen und die Renaissance,” IJCT 8 [2001/2002], 408–15); Deena Berg, op. cit. (above, n. 6) “Fountains and Artistic Water Displays in Classical Antiquity,” Diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1994; Dora Crouch, Water Management in Ancient Greek Cities (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) 48–53; Fikret Yegül, Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity (New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992) (reviewed in this journal by Werner Heinz, “Von der Antike zur Renaissance: Zur Frage der Kontinuität römischer Bäder,” IJCT 6 [1999–2000], 67–75); J. Rudhardt, Le thème de l'eau primordiale dans la mythologie grecque, Travaux publiés sous les auspices de la Société Suisse des Sciences Humaines 12 (Berne: Franke, 1971); J. Toutain, “Le Culte des eaux (sources, fleuves, lacs) dans la Grèce antique,” in: Idem, J. Toutain, Nouvelles études de mythologie et d'histoire des religions antiques (Paris: Jouve, 1935), 268–94. For nineteenth-century references, see, e.g., Edward Dodwell, A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece (London: Rodwell & Martin, 1819).Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    “Water,” Household Words 18 (23 October 1858), 433.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    I am grateful to Charles Newton, Paintings Dept. at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for the following account. The precise title of this picture, given by the artist himself, is Waterfall at St. Nightons Kieve, and it is presently in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The editor of Art Union probably gave the painting the name Nymph of the Waterfall since in the engraving the young woman is more prominent than the back-ground foliage of the landscape. There is no evidence that Maclise was interested in the specific genre of Celtic mythology. The woman in the picture is an idealized portrait of Georgina Hogarth, Dickens's sister-in-law. The editor's use of the word “nymph” of classical origin was a means to generalize the image.Google Scholar
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    “Sanitary Reform,” British Quarterly Review 9 (1 February 1849), 51. James Rattue, curator at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, addresses this issue, sorting out the historical facts in his book The Living Stream: Holy Wells in Historical Context (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 1995).Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Letter from Ruskin to Leighton (17 November [1883?]), in: Mrs. Russell Barrington, The Life, Letters, and Work of Frederic Leighton, vol. 2 (London: Allen, 1906), 42=The Works of John Ruskin, ed. Cook and Wedderburn (above, n. 42), vol. XXXVII (1909), 675.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Leighton's favorite club, however, was the Athenaeum of which he was a member from 1866.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    For a discussion of Leighton's relationship to English Aestheticism and other contemporary movements, including Classical Revival, see Richard Ormond, “Leighton and his Contemporaries,” Frederic, Lord Leighton: Eminent Victorian Artist (New York: Abrams; London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1996), 21–40.Google Scholar
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    Water-carriers of lowly status also appear in Leighton's 1884–86 fresco The Arts of Industry As Applied to Peace, begun in 1869, just a year after his election as Associate Academician. Tim Barringer (“Leighton in Albertopolis: Monumental Art and Objects of Desire,” in: Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity, ed. Tim Barringer and Elizabeth, Prettejohn [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999], 135–68) also sees the possibility of finding contemporary allusion in Leighton's work. Barringer maintains that “despite leighton's unwillingness to represent the conditions of modern labour under industrialisation (the raison d'être of the [South Kensington Museum for which they were destined]) the frescoes do, elliptically, acknowledge aspects of the social relations of Victorian Britain…blacksmiths … to the noblemen … labour and capital, production and consumption” (150). Barringer also contrasts Leighton's “genteel sempstresses” in the companion 1878–80 fresco The Arts of Industry As Applied to War with Richard Redgrave's 1844 social realist treatment of The Sempstress (154).Google Scholar
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    In her catalogue essay for the painting (Frederic, Lord Leighton: Eminent Victorian Artist [New York: Abrams; London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1996]), Leonée Ormond reports that the critic of the Athenaeum (4 May 1861, 600–01) described the painting's architectural setting as “a palace of no date,—it may be Roman in the luxurious days; it may be Pompeian; it may be Egyptian of Cleopatra's age; it may even be Palladian of the best time of the Renaissance …” Ormond continues that “the layout of the building makes little sense. On the left a steep flight of stairs leads through an arch toward a wall, topped with a decorative classical frieze. The staircase evidently turns right and continues up an uprotected stair through a Renaissance-style doorway…A similar lack of historical accuracy is found in the vases. Dr. Ian Jenkins has pointed out that they do not belong to the Greek ‘repertoire of shapes or decoration,’ nor does he ‘recognise elements of Greek pottery in them’ (letter to the author, 20 June 1995).”Google Scholar
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    Deena Berg (op. cit. [above, n. 6], “Fountains and Artistic Water Displays in Classical Antiquity,” Diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1994, 56–46) says that “a number of different types of animal spouts have been documented—horses, mules, boars, rams, satyrs—but the lion's head spout was preferred by far.” There is, however, the base of a fountain (No. 2536 in A.H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum [London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1904], vol. III, 409) that features dogs' heads. It could also be that the dog spout in the Punch cartoon refers in part to Mr. Punch's pet bulldog/mascot pictured frequently in the pages of the magazine; in 37 (10 September 1859), 107 the dog is featured as the spout of “The Punch Fountain in Fleet Street” in a caricature advocating temperance.Google Scholar
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  72. 82.
    Frederick Dolman quoted in Vern Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (London: Garton, 1990), 85, n. 4. Rodolfo Lanciani's (English edition) The Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome (London: Macmillan, 1897), which included a description/drawing of the Baths of Caracalla, was part of Alma-Tadema's personal library. Lanciani described Roman archaeology in a series of letters (published as Notes from Rome, ed. Anthony Cubberley [Rome: British School at Rome, 1988]) written to The Athenaeum in London between 1876 and 1913. See also Taylor, op. cit. (above, n. 6), 40. It should also be pointed out that Alma-Tadema numbered his paintings, using Roman numerals.Google Scholar
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    See Victoria T. Larson, “Classics and the Acquisition and Validation of Power in Britain's ‘Imperial Century’ (1815–1914),” in this journal (IJCT) 6 (1999/2000), 185–225.Google Scholar
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    See Leonée Ormond and Richard Ormond, Lord Leighton (London: Yale University Press, 1975), Color Plate VIII, Cat. 334 and Color sketch, Color Plate II, Cat. 335, p. 169.Google Scholar
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    See Dora Wiebenson, “Subjects from Homer's Iliad in Neo-Classical Art,” Art Bulletin 46 (1964), 36–40; Christopher Wood, Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters, 1860–1914 (London: Constable, 1983) 61–62; Joseph A. Kestner, Mythology and Misogyny: The Social Discourse of Nineteenth-Century British Classical Subject Painting (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989) 157ff. and Plate 3.13. For Victorian writing on the subject of Andromache, see “Andromache—The Daughters of Priam,” Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 117, no. 713 (March 1875), 305–20 and Percy Gardner, “Hector and Andromache on a Red-Figured Vase,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 9 (1888), 11–17. For additional bibliography on the subject, see Jane Davidson Reid's Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300–1990s I (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) 104.Google Scholar
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    Ian Jenkins, “Frederic Lord Leighton and Greek Vases,” Burlington Magazine 125 (October 1983), 597–605. Jenkins also points out that Leighton returned to this vase (B 331 in H.B. Walters, Catalogue of the Greek and Etruscan Vases in the British Museum, Vol. II [London: Clowes, 1893], 31) in his 1892 At the Fountain and in his 1895 Lachrymae.Google Scholar
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    For a discussion of this painting and an identification of the figures, see Athenaeum, No. 2010 (5 May 1866), 602 and Elizabeth Prettejohn, “Aestheticizing History Painting,” in: Barringer and Prettejohn (eds.), op. cit. (above, n. 68),, 89–110.Google Scholar
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    A writer for the Athenaeum (“Royal Academy,” No. 2010 [5 May 1866], 602) described this figure as “the invoking priestess … her hands upraised in the antique fashion…”Google Scholar
  82. 76.
    Ibid. A writer for the Athenaeum (“Royal Academy,” No. 2010 [5 May 1866], 602)Google Scholar
  83. 77.
    G.V. Poore, London (Ancient and Modern) from the Sanitary and Medical Point of View (London: Cassell, 1889), 7, 10.Google Scholar
  84. 78.
    Sir John Simon, English Sanitary Institutions (London: Murray, 1897), 20–21; Frontinus Aqueducts of Rome, II.97: “No one shall with malice pollute the waters where they issue publicly. Should any one pollute them, his fine shall be ten thousand sestertii” (Frontinus, The Stratagems and Aqueducts of Rome, trans. Charles E. Bennett, Loeb Classical Library [London: Heinemann, 1925], 427). Frontinus constitutes the earliest written source of this law, which is a decree of the Roman Senate. I am grateful to Bruce Swan and especially Mardell O'Brien of the Classics Library at the University of Illinois for their work on this. See also Taylor, op. cit. (above, n. 6), Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, The Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome, Studia Archaeologica 109 (Rome: “L'Erma” di Bretschneider, 2000), 43–48, 114.Google Scholar
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    See Ralph Jackson, “Waters and Spas in the Classical World,” in: The Medical History of Waters and Spas. Medical History, Supplement No. 10, ed. Roy Porter (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1990), 1–13 and Yegül, op. cit. (above, n. 61)Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity (New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992).Google Scholar
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    Frederick Dolman quoted in Vern Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (London: Garton, 1990), 85, n. 4. Rodolfo Lanciani's (English edition) The Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome (London: Macmillan, 1897), which included a description/drawing of the Baths of Caracalla, was part of Alma-Tadema's personal library. Lanciani described Roman archaeology in a series of letters (published as Notes from Rome, ed. Anthony Cubberley [Rome: British School at Rome, 1988]) written to The Athenaeum in London between 1876 and 1913. See also Taylor, op. cit. (above, n. 6), Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, The Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome, Studia Archaeologica 109 (Rome: “L'Erma” di Bretschneider, 2000), 40. It should also be pointed out that Alma-Tadema numbered his paintings using Roman numerals.Google Scholar
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    In fact, Elizabeth Prettejohn (“Antiquity Fragmented and Reconstructed,” in Edwin Becker [ed.], op. cit. [above, n. 13], 33–42) has recently commented upon the strangely non-classical aspects of his (mostly) small-scale compositions, which their lack of traditional compositional order, and lack of hierarchical and centralized groupings.Google Scholar
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    A “dolphin” was also the common name for a water-intake point. As early as 1827 a pamphlet entitled “The Dolphin; or, Grand Junction Nuisance” [by John Wright] exposed the unhealthy state of the water supply; indeed, Cruikshank's Neptune in Fig. 1b sits atop the Thames “dolphin,” itself the means of distributing polluted water to London inhabitants.Google Scholar
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    Prettejohn (art. cit. [above, n. 88], 42) also cites the “ambiguity of his vision of Imperial Rome … where material splendour … threatens to overwhelm the merely human concerns of the figures.” Edward Morris (art. cit. [above, n. 13])“Alma-Tadema and the English Classical Revival”, in: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, ed. Edwin Becker (New York: Rizzoli, 1996), also addresses the issue of the artist's use of Roman rather than Greek antiquity.Google Scholar
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    See Leonée Ormond and Richard Ormond op. cit. (above, n. 71),, Color Plate V (Cat. 248, p. 164).Google Scholar
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    “Hylas and the Nymphs,” Studio 10 (1897), 244. Ancient sources for the myth include Anonymous Orphic Argonautica 634 ff; Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.1207–1362; Theocritus, Idylls 13.38–75; Vergil, Eclogues 6.43ff. Waterhouse studied at the Royal Academy, but was also self-taught; we cannot know for certain what source he actually used.Google Scholar
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    Another possible source for this caricature might be Collier Smither's 1895 A Race of Mermaids and Tritons, which also featured nude beauties with flowers in their long hair, but generally portrayed more action, with figures actually swimming.Google Scholar
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    Their punishment in Hades, of pouring water into a leaking pithos, appears in severla ancient sources including Vergil's Aeneid 10, 495–99; 12, 945–52. See Eva Keuls, “Danaides”, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, vol. III, part 2 (Zurich and Munich: Artemis, 1986), 337.Google Scholar
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    R.E.D. Sketchley, “The Art of J.W. Waterhouse, R.A.”, Art Journal (Christmas Number 1909) 2, 21. William Smith's Classical Dictionary (Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1st ed. 1844) was part of a series of popular dictionaries connected with Dr. (Sir) William Smith, editor of the Quarterly Review from 1867, and published by John Murray (1808–92). From Jenkins, op. cit. (above, n. 9)Smith, William, ed. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (London: John Murray, 1875)#230, p. 87. “Smith's dictionary of antiquities is a companion volume to his similar works on classical biography and geography. Like those other works it is available in many editions and printings…” Dr. Bruce Swan, Librarian of the Classics Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, adds the following information: there is an 1842 edition of this, and it appears to be the first. In fact, it was reviewed by Edgar Allan Poe in the Southern Literary Messenger (May 1845, 326–328; the text of the review is available online:, whih date is repeated by bartelby. com/222/1502/html:” … the great series of dictionaries planned by William Smith, who was knighted in 1892, and who deserves to be remembered as a great organiser of learned literary labour. The dictionaries of Greek and Roman antiquities (1842, etc.), biography and mythology (1843, etc.) and geography (1857) were followed by dictionaries of the Bible and of Christian antiquities and Christian biography.” The passage on is extracted from John Edwin Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, vol. III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908), 430–431. A standard (but dated) biography of Smith is by John Sutherland Black and George Chrystal, The Life of William Robertson Smith (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1912). The British Museum vase is F 210 described in H.B. Walters, Catalogue of the Greek and Etruscan Vases in the British Museum, vol. IV (London: British Museum, 1896), 105 and reproduced in Keuls, art. cit. (above, n. 100), Fig. 19. The vase, however, seems compositionally unrelated to the Waterhouse version. It features only three Danaides bearing amphorae and incorporates as well two male figures and a dog. The illustration in the dictionary seems more related to Waterhouse's painting—with five figures and amphorae around a large cauldron—but the disposition of the figures is different.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelley Wood Cordulack
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArtMillikin UniversityDecaturUSA

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