Skating in St. James' Park
- Additional Title(s):
Figures Skating in St. James' Park
- ca. 1790
- Watercolor, pen and brown ink, and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper mounted to board
- Sheet: 12 3/4 × 27 7/8 inches (32.4 × 70.8 cm)
Inscribed on verso in graphite, lower left: "W282[...]; center: "P"
- Credit Line:
- Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
- Copyright Status:
- Public Domain
- Accession Number:
- Drawings & Watercolors
- Prints and Drawings
- Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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John Nixon, ca. 1760–1818, British, Skating in St. James' Park, ca. 1790
Ice skates were introduced in England in the late seventeenth century, and skating became a popular winter recreation. John Nixon's humorous depiction of skating and sliding on a frozen canal in St. James's park probably commemorate the severe winter of 1788-9, when the river Thames froze over for the first time since 1683. The frost fair held on the river was a popular attraction and proved lucrative for the many enterprising vendors of food, drink, and souvenirs. The Public Advertizer noted on January 5, 1789: "This Booth is to let. The present possessor of the premises is Mr. Frost. His affairs however, not being permanent footing, a dissolution or bankruptcy may soon be expected, and a final settlement of the whole entrusted to Mr. Thaw." The Thames was soon to be the permanent domain of "Mr. That," since the demolition of the Old London Bridge in 1831 improved the flow of the river to such an extent that it no longer froze over.
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