The Comic Almanack, August - Bathing At Brighton

George Cruikshank

English, 1792 - 1878

The Comic Almanack, August - Bathing at Brighton, 1836

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Etching on paper

Dimensions:
Image: 4 9/16 × 7 1/4 in. (11.6 × 18.4 cm)
Image: 3 1/4 × 5 in. (8.3 × 12.7 cm)

Gift of Grayce Scholt, 2010.34

The bathing scene at Brighton Beach documents a vacation spot on the southern coast of England. Highlighting the ridiculousness of those seeking to be trendy, Cruikshank allows nature's humor to complicate the situation. Determined to "dip" at all costs, the bathers work in groups to roll into the crashing waves. Ideally dipping would be done on a calmer day, but these bathers do not give up. Fully dressed in dipping garb, the dippers sway with the motion of their carriers. The bathing boxes, fashionably marked with the names of their patrons, conspicuously indicate the class of those who could afford to rent one. Later, further costs were associated with taking the train to Brighton, making modern rail travel part of the posh experience. The bathing boxes themselves were mounted on a cart with wheels, so as to be towed to the ideal location and partially submerged in the water. A somewhat risqué component to the bathing process was the idea that women would be changing "in public" with such little protection as a bathing box — what if the wind blew the door open? Men and women used separate beaches for this reason. Cruikshank's illustration also shows the new trend of introducing children to dipping, which began in the early 19th century. Cruikshank's children look somewhat terrified, further underscoring the vanity of the adults seeking status through "dangerous" pastimes.

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