SAYER, Robert, & Co. (publishers)
Archery. Plate 1; Archery. Plate 2
London: Robert Sayer & Co., 6 May 1792. Mezzotints. Image size (including text): 13 x 9 3/4 inches approx. Sheet size: 15 x 11 inches approx.
A fine highly decorative pair of anonymous mezzotints.
By the middle of the seventeenth century the bow was no longer considered a viable weapon of war in Europe, although as late as 1808 Napoleon's army in Poland faced a force including 1500 archers on horseback. However, Archery as a sport survived and prospered and a number of quite exclusive toxophilic societies were formed. Through the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth century, archery enjoyed an enviable reputation as a genteel pursuit that both men and women could take part in with decorum. The present pair of plates depicts two archery matches: the first, a men's match, shows the four male contestants dressed in the uniform of their society. The central figure is just about to release an arrow at an unseen but clearly distant target. His companions stand around, another stretched canvas target just behind the central bowman. The second image, of a ladies' match, shows four contestants all dressed in similar costume. The central figure, standing behind one target, draws her bow and looks to the distance where a man standing by the second target signals where her last arrow hit.