by Thomas Nast (1873), p. 74.
The illustration appears in the American Edition of Charles Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter XII, "Descriptive of a Very Important Proceeding on the Part of Mr. Pickwick; no less an Epoch in his Life, than in this History," page 74. Wood-engraving, 3 ½ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (8.9 cm high by 13.3 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on page 73; descriptive headline: "Innocence in Danger" (p. 73). New York: Harper & Bros., Franklin Square, 1873.
Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose, as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image, and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Context of the Illustration: The Mistaken Marriage Proposal
"When I am in town, you'll always have somebody to sit with you. To be sure, so you will."
"I am sure I ought to be a very happy woman," said Mrs. Bardell.
"And your little boy —" said Mr. Pickwick.
"Bless his heart!" interposed Mrs. Bardell, with a maternal sob.
"He, too, will have a companion," resumed Mr. Pickwick, "a lively one, who'll teach him, I'll be bound, more tricks in a week than he would ever learn in a year." [Chapter XII, "Descriptive of a Very Important Proceeding on the Part of Mr. Pickwick; no less an Epoch in his Life, than in this History," page 73]
Commentary: Speaking Confidentially, but at Cross Purposes
Thomas Nast's "He, too will have a companion," resumed Mr. Pickwick implies a convivial relationship between Pickwick and his landlady, both of whom are understanding one another quite imperfectly. A curious detail is Pickwick's easy-chair, which Nast appears to have appropriated directly from Phiz's 1836 plate. Mrs. Bardell, too, despite her much greater age and less comely face and figure, is dressed in the Nast plate precisely as she is in the original Phiz engraving. However, the American illustrator has avoided the situation comedy of that earlier plate in order to focus on the two characters. Only after this interview, which Pickwick had thought concerned his hiring a valet, does the situation comedy transpire as the trio of Pickwickians arrive to bear witness to her fainting in Pickwick's arms — and presumably to a torrid romance interrupted. The clothing of the two Mrs. Bardell's, Phiz's and Nast's, may be similar, but Phiz's Mrs. Bardell in the Household Edition is far more attractive than Nast's elderly widow. In the Phiz composition, Pickwick's smirking companions look a little embarrassed at having interrupted what they assume is a romantic interlude.
Another approach: Phiz's farcical scene in the British Household Edition (1873)
Phiz's approach to this episode in the novel is completely consistent with that which he took in his 1836 steel engraving "Take this little villain away," said the agonised Mr. Pickwick.
Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-1910
- Robert Seymour (1836)
- Hablot Knight Brown (1836-37)
- Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1861)
- Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1867)
- Hablot Knight Browne (1874)
- A selected list of illustrations by Harry Furniss for the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
- Clayton J. Clarke's Extra Illustration for Player's Cigarettes (1910)
- Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (homepage)
- Nast’s Pickwick illustrations
- The complete list of illustrations by Seymour and Phiz for the original edition
- The complete list of illustrations by Phiz for the Household Edition
- An introduction to the Household Edition (1871-79)
Dickens, Charles. The Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873.
Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
Last modified 13 September 2019