17th century 'Bluecoat Boy' watercolour

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17th century 'Bluecoat Boy' watercolour

Post by postwarblue » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:25 am

The 1991 illustrated edition of Richard Ollard's biography 'Pepys' naturally has not a few references to CH. It also carries a black and white reproduction of a portrait of a 'Bluecoat Boy' but unfortunately the only credit if to Magdelen College Cambridge where presumably this picture is part of Pepys' own collection. This collection has been catalogued but the catalogue is not on the internet which make sit useless for the casual enquirer. The picture appears to be a watercolour and shows a boy of about 13 (?) in his bluecoat with an RMS plate on his right chest and also the bands shown alongside each other rather than superimposed and wearing a large floppy tam o'shanter type hat. So, several questions:

Who's the artist?

When did the RMS plate migrate to the left shoulder?

When did the bands change to the superimposed style?

When did the (long discarded) hat shrink?

I had never seen this picture before so it can't have been known about at the school in modern times.

By comparison a 1705 print reproduced in the CH Quatercentenary Book shows two mathemats with the badge on the left breast, bands separate as in Pepys' picture, and shrunk hats.
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Re: 17th century 'Bluecoat Boy' watercolour

Post by michael scuffil » Mon Sep 07, 2015 2:01 pm

I think you need not take the fidelity of such pictures too seriously (hat and plate). And it is possible that at some stage (could be any stage) in the reproduction process the image was reversed. As for the bands, the fashion for wearing them superimposed seems to be a CH speciality. Bands are worn by clerics, lawyers and academics, but always separated. The answer to your question I think is 'gradually during the 18th century'. The Ackermann Grecian print shows the bands overlapping but not superimposed.
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