“Native Meltons” Mezzotint after Philippe Mercier (1689-1760) c.1756

“Native Meltons” Mezzotint after Philippe Mercier (1689-1760) c.1756

Code: 10893


H: 38.8cm (15.3")W: 29cm (11.4")


“Native Meltons” (Oyster Seller)
Richard Houston (c. 1721-1775) 
after Philippe Mercier (1689-1760)
Published by Robert Sayer
London, circa1756
Framed and glazed 

38.8 cm x 29 cm (framed)

Label verso for C.W. Cooper of 61 Sydney Street, South Kensington, London, S.W.

Lettered beneath the image with the title "NATIVE MELTONS." and with artist's details "Mercier pinxt." "Richd. Houston Fecit" and a verse either side:

"Well, pretty Maid! and how d'ye sell 'em?
Sir, Three a Penny, if You tell 'em;
They're most delicious Oysters:
By Jove, a Girl so Sweet as Thee.-
In London Streets one ne'er shall see,
Nor yet at Smithfield Cloisters.

Ladies who dress and patch and paint, 
Your Charms to genuine Charms are faint,
Where rosy youth perswades:
Polly shall win a Thousand Hearts,
While Half of You for all your Arts,-
Must live and die old Maids"

With the publication line beneath "London, Printed for Robt. Sayer, Print & Map Seller opposite Fetter Lane, Fleet, Street".

The image depicts a London oyster seller. The original oil from which this image was engraved was in the collection of the Late Professor Sir Albert Richardson P.R.A. (See Lot 51, Christie's, London, Sale 1186, 19 September 2013). Meltons were a native species of British oyster especially associated with the oyster beds at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey, at the junction of the Thames and the Medway, and distributed from Billingsgate Fish Market. They were said to be best consumed in November, December and January. There is a charming tension between the apparent modesty and innocence of the subject and more explicit innuendo of which a contemporary viewer would have been conscious.
For similar see British Museum 1870,0514.2935 and Yale B1977.14.11954 for a proof before lettering.

Small margins, trimmed to just outside the plate mark. Presented in an antique Hogarth style frame with ripple glass.