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Scarcity in India
|Description||This is one of a pair of Singleton prints that contrast British wealth with food shortages in India (the other is entitled ‘British Plenty’, see PAH7357). There had been a particularly bad famine in Bengal in 1769-1770. The artist Henry Singleton illustrated Shakespeare’s plays and produced sentimental genre scenes with an eye to the print trade. This pair of prints shows sailors on shore leave in pursuit of local girls. They provide particularly clear illustrations of seamen’s dress in the 1790s. Two sailors are bargaining with a scantily clad Indian girl with a basket of fruit. Although pineapples were luxury goods at this time, the mirror, and in particular the watch offered by the seaman on the left represent a disproportionately high price for the fruit. The girl’s hairstyle resembles a pineapple reinforcing the point that she is the object of their attention rather than her wares. The two men are dressed in their shore-going clothes with buckled shoes and silk stockings. They wear baggy cotton trousers and short jackets. The sleeve of the left-hand sailor has a mariner’s cuff outlined in white piping and his wool jacket has metal buttons, which are probably made of brass. He wears a straw hat and his hair is done in a pigtail or queue. Both men have large silk neckerchiefs probably originating in India. Sailor’s dress was much the same in the merchant service and the navy. There was no uniform for the lower ranks at this time.|
|Date made||1 January 1794|
|Credit||National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection|
|Measurements||Platemark: 563 mm x 426 mm; Primary support: 565 mm x 430 mm; Mount: 834 mm x 605 mm|
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