A Royal Card Game

playing cards3.jpg

Isaac Cruikshank (1764-1811), The Family Party or Prince Bladduds Man Traps!!
May 11, 1799. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2012- in process

AN00091651_001_l.jpg(c) British Museum

A card game is being played at the home of King George IV (1762-1830), Prince of Wales, who is standing with his hand on the breast of Honor Dutton (born Gubbins, married Ralph Dutton). His younger brother Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763-1827), is sitting with his back to us.

Cruikshank drew at least six caricatures of the two brothers and Honor Dutton. What’s interesting about this one is that a very similar print, titled The Snug Party’s Exit. Or the Farewell to Bath was published on May 6, 1799 by J. Brown of Bath (probably a pseudonym). In less than a week, Cruikshank completed a pirated copy, with the image laterally reversed. This was published in London by Samuel William Fores (1761-1838), a dealer who specialized in playing cards and popular prints.

The print’s title refers to Prince Bladud, a legendary king, who was banished from Athens when he contracted leprosy. He was miraculously healed by the waters at Bath and went on to founded a city at that site (at least that’s one story).