Home‎ > ‎Pokerisms‎ > ‎Pokerisms Index‎ > ‎

The Grapeseller

The Grapeseller
by Ball Hughes, ca 1862
after the painting by J. Phillip, R.A.

Inscription, verso:
This Sketch was burnt with a
Poker from the celebrated Picture
of the Grapeseller by J Phillip R A.
Boston  B.H.

    This undated pokersim is the only known copy of this subject. It was purchased by David Brown in 2013 from an art dealer. It measures about 9" by 11 3/4" in its frame of about 14 3/4" by 17 1/4".

    Two reinforcing wood blocks that were glued to the back are missing. Reinforcing blocks can be seen on the back of 
The Blind Begger of Gretna Green.

    The newspaper obituary for Ball Hughes is glued to the back. The frame is the same style as the one for Senor Don Sancho Panza (ca 1862). The two pokerworks were apparently kept together until David Brown acquired this one. 

    This is the first commercial pokerwork by Ball Hughes that I have seen up close. I was surprised to see that it has textured lines as well as shading.

    The subject's 
iris is slightly recessed from the rest of the eye and the pupils are small, dark holes, burned into the wood. The varnish on the slightly beveled edge of the holes reflect ambient light like a human eye does and add contrast. This makes the eyes pop and is common to other pokerworks by Ball Hughes, like the numerous copies of Daniel Webster. The refection changes depending on the viewing angle and adds a realistic feature.

closeup showing the refection around the pupils

click on image to view and enlarge

Closeup of the engraving of The Grapeseller
by J. Phillip, R.A.
from the Illustrated London News, Nov. 30, 1861, p. 599

The Grapeseller
by J Phillip, R.A., in Mr. Flatou's Collection
Woodblock engraving from the Illustrated London News, Nov. 30, 1861, p. 599

    Ball Hughes probably copied the woodblock engraving of Phillip's painting in 1862 after it appeared on p. 599 of the Nov. 30, 1861 issue of the Illustrated London News. According to Wikipedia, John Phillip (1817-1867) was a Victorian era painter best known for his portrayals of Spanish life.

    The original page of the Illustrated London News above was purchased by David Brown from Old-Print.com through their Amazon.com store. They have good prices and excellent service. The print arrived safely in a mailing tube from Scotland in about 10 days.

Text of the ILN article:


This picture, which forms part of the interesting collection by modern artists now exhibiting at Hayward and Laggatt's City Gallery by Mr. Flatou, and which we believe was expressly painted for that gentleman, is a fine specimen of the artist's vigorous conception and florid handling. The Adalusian beauty, with full, laughing eye, mouth entr'ouvert, and showing a row of pearly teeth, with black hair clustering in admired disorder beneath a gaily-striped kerchief, is the very picture of health and good humour. The stock of of grapes speaks well of the vintage, and will ensure a ready custom. The colouring of this picture is of lavish richness ; and its effect, as it glows in its place on the wall, is almost to warm the dull November atmosphere which surrounds us.

    Florid means elaborately or excessively intricate or complicated. The Andalusians are the people of the southern region in Spain. Entr'ouvert is French for half open.

    Ball Hughes used engravings of paintings from the Illustrated London News for the subjects of several of his pokerworks including 
Falstaff Examining his RecruitsPeter Paul Rubens In His StudyThe Burgomaster and Daughter, and  Senor Don Sancho Panza.

    The Illustrated London News was the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper and no doubt was available in Boston. The history of the ILN and back issues are available on John Weedy's Illustrated London News website at http://www.iln.org.uk/.

last update 9/1/2013
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2013