This etching shows the trade sign of a barber, Barn, L.M. (Licentiate of Medicine). Although there are elements of satire, not least in the description of Barn as ‘factotum’ and in the juxtaposition of the elements of his trade, it is not inconceivable that this is a portrait. The subtitle L’Inghilterra suggests that it is also a satire of English village life. There is a companion piece, The Dog Barber, which is subtitled La Francia.
‘Bobs’ were wigs where the bottom locks were turned up into short curls. ‘Scratches’ or scratch-wigs were short wigs which enabled the wearer to scratch the head. ‘Breeches-balls’ were balls of a composition for cleaning breeches. ‘Sausages’, given the presence also of ‘black puddings’, probably denoted the foodstuff, although sausage curls were horizontal curls resembling sausages. The barber is shown holding the tools of his trade: the lancet and razor. He has a shaving bowl under his arm. The village stocks can be seen in the background.
The artist of the print is Henry William Bunbury (1750-1811, amateur artist and caricaturist). Bunbury was not an engraver, and his drawing was executed and published by James Bretherton. The wigs described can be seen illustrated in nos. 104(g) and 213, the latter showing the interior of a barber’s shop, also by Bunbury and Bretherton.
JJ Trade in Prints and Scraps 3
© Bodleian Library 2001