The Rope Dancer

During the 1660s, Londoners seeking daredevil entertainment could enjoy the acrobatic skills of a number of performance troupes, one of which included a ‘rope dancer’ named Jacob Hall, who had distinguished himself as a performer on the tight-rope.

Dobson, William, 1611-1646; Jacob Hall, Rope Dancer (active 1668-1683)
Jacob Hall, Rope Dancer (active 1668-1683), by a follower of William Dobson,
©Trinity College, University of Oxford

The shows promised dancing and vaulting on the ropes, with a variety of feats and activity and agility, including “doing of somersets [somersaults] and flipflaps, flying over thirty rapiers, and over several men’s heads, and also flying through several hoops.”

Mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary as boasting he had often fallen but never broken a limb, Hall was also a favourite of the Restoration court, with Charles II’s mistress, Lady Castlemain, the future Duchess of Cleveland, apparently falling in love with him after being neglected by the King.* He would be a regular visitor at her house, and received a salary for his favours.

He was at the peak of his fame in 1668, and would be memorialised in a number of late 17th century publications for ‘delighting London with his jumping’.

Source: Wikipedia

*Another narrator suggests the affair actually began at the encouragement of Charles himself, who considered the rope dancer a less embarrassing paramour for Lady Castlemain than Sir Henry Jermyn, whom he described as ‘the most ridiculous conqueror that ever was.’ I’d love to know more about that dispute!

 

Advertisements

Royal children?

This lovely pair are currently listed on an auction site together, with an attribution to Sir Godfrey Kneller. It is suggested they may be children of Charles II, namely the ill-fated James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, and his half-sister, Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria.

The date is around 1660.

CII

I don’t know whether or not the boy is indeed Monmouth, but I do love his dog!

Monmouth dog

There are close-up images on the auction site, including a couple of the odd shaped frames from the back.

View sale page

 

Exhibition update

I promised a reader I’d review the Charles I exhibition, which I was lucky enough to see on its opening day last Saturday. It has taken more than 350 years, but we are at last able to see for ourselves just why the loss of King Charles I’s art collection is so lamented. The Royal Academy and the Royal Collections Trust have put together a truly magnificent show, and no written review can really do justice to the effort that has gone into bringing these works together.

The cast-list for Charles’s collection includes many of the greatest names in art history. The 17th century is represented by, among others, Titian, Orazio and Artemesia Gentileschi,¬† Rubens, Mytens, Velasquez, and, of course, Charles’s favourite, Sir Anthony Van Dyck, whose works take up an impressive amount of wall-space. The great equestrian portraits of the King, brought together – possibly for the first time – convey the majesty and power Charles wanted his court painter to convey.

Also present, from the 15th and 16th centuries, are greats such as Titian, Mantegna,  Raphael, Tintoretto, Correggio, and Veronese.

C2

For an extra special bonus to all the wonderful artworks, one room is dedicated to the huge tapestries created at the Mortlake tapestry factory on the banks of the River Thames in London.

As a representation of the greatest European artists, you’ll be hard pushed to see another of this scale and quality, so you have until April to make it to this one!

20180205_194628

%d bloggers like this: