The Ardor and the Joy of a Game at Foot-Ball

"The Ardor and the Joy of a Game at Foot-Ball" by Fred Barnard. Harper's Weekly (10 November 1888): 857. wood engraving, 9 inch high by 13.5 (23.2 cm high by 34.2 cm wide). Illustrates material on the following page. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

Fred Barnard composed this large-scale illustration for his friend Henry Harper of the New York publishing firm Harper & Bros. "The Ardor and the Joy of a Game at Foot-Ball," depicts Rugby and not either the American version of the sport or what Britons today call football. This large wood engraving is somewhat unconventional compared to other football pictures of the period in that it utilizes a perspective that foregrounds the three enthusiastic male spectators, either too old or too young to engage actively in the sport. Putting the figures in the stands in the foreground, Barnard has provided a psychological study of sports enthusiasts, all of them solidly middle class, that is still relevant today. Completed while Barnard was living at an artists' colony named "Broadway" in the Cotswolds, the picture at first blush might seem to depict an American scene, complete with an American flag flying in the stadium, but the players in the background are forming a distinctly British rugby scrum. The young woman in the picture seems slightly alarmed at the ardor of her male companions, likely family members.

Last modified 17 August 2016