‘The Prince’s Bow’ is a seven-foot long engraving lampooning the future George IV. It shows 19 figures imitating the Prince of Wales’ flamboyant bow before the throne of Westminster Hall in 1788. The throne represented the regal authority of his father, George III, and the overly-gracious gesture became the subject of gossip and mirth in society.
At next month’s Chester fair David Harvey of WR Harvey Antiques offers a hand-coloured engraving of the scene, published in three sections by William Holland in March 1788. It is taken from a painting, now lost, by the artist FG Byron (a relative of George Gordon Lord Byron). Only two other known versions of the print exist, one at the British Museum and the other in the Library of Congress, Washington, US.
The figures in the cartoon are depicted in variety of fanciful poses, each making satirical comments written above them.
“Curse it, I’ve burst the waistband of my breeches,” says a doctor dressed in fashions 30 years out of date.
Further along the print, author and eccentric George Hanger (a real historical figure) says: “It would kick up the heels of chastity in maid, wife or widow.”
Chester Antiques Show
Harvey, whose Witney business specialises in antique furniture and works of art was pleased to discover the print.
However, he says that “faced with the problem of having a seven-foot long hand-coloured engraving the question is – what do you put under it?”
He found his answer in a seven foot long sideboard which he acquired recently and which he will also bring to the fair, which takes place at the Chester Racecourse.
The Regency period flame figured mahogany sideboard was made c 1820. The quality of the timbers and the reeded columns and legs suggest and attribution to Gillows of Lancaster. It was in the royal box at Cheltenham Racecourse for many years and is offered now for £5000.