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'a Life on the Ocean Wave' (Supposed Latest Performance of the G O M) 'Heigh, My Hearts! Cheerly, Cheerly, My Hearts! Yare, Yare!' Shakespeare

Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914)


Signed with monogram and dated 1883
Inscribed with title and publication details on original mount


8 ¼ x 6 ¼ inches

Provenance: Mary Green (Nee Tenniel), the Artist's Sister, and Thence by Descent

Illustrated: Punch, 22 September 1883, Page 139

'The Illustrators. the British Art of Illustration 1837-2012', Chris Beetles Gallery, November 2012-January 2013, No 119; 'Ruskin's Artists', Chris Beetles Gallery, 12 February-2 March 2019

On 8 September 1883, the Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, and the poet laureate, Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), embarked on a sea voyage to Scandinavia in the Pembroke Castle. While based at Copenhagen, ‘they were entertained by the king and queen of Denmark at the Castle of Fredensborg, and in turn hosted a shipboard luncheon for fifty, including not only the Danish royalty but the emperor and empress of Russia and the king and queen of Greece’ (Cornelia Pearsall, Tennyson’s Rapture, Oxford University Press, 2008, page 339). These events proved controversial, as Gladstone did not inform Queen Victoria of his plans in advance and, as a result, provoked her fury. Tenniel’s cartoon shows Gladstone dancing a hornpipe to Tennyson’s harp accompaniment, presumably the popular air of the 1830s, ‘A Life on the Ocean Wave’ by Epes Sargent and Henry Russell. Gladstone’s physician, Sir Andrew Clark (1826-1893), looks on. The drawing is captioned by the words of the Boatswain from Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and faced the unsigned poem, ‘On the Skye-Lark’, which provided a version of the voyage.

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