The Angler's Companion (to Fishing)
[London: circa 1820]. Engraving, printed in bistre, on linen with contemporary cloth edging tape. Image size (including text): 29 3/4 x 23 3/8 inches. Sheet size: 29 7/8 x 33 3/4 inches.
A beautiful, ephemeral and very rare angling print on linen.
At the centre of the print is a Hogarthian scene of an angler in his winter (closed-season) sitting-room. He is laid-up in his arm-chair with gout, his foot rests on a gout stool, a toddy warms on the grate above a blazing fire whilst he tries to re-live the long-gone halcyon days of summer by fishing for apples in a large coopered barrel full of water. Scattered around him are the accoutrements of his art: creels, nets, rods, an open fly-case. This image is surrounded by a decorative border of scrolling stylised foliage. Beyond this is a surround of 13 ovals, each with a picture of a different British freshwater fish giving the fish's name and the season when it can be fished, joined to these ovals are shaped 'labels' that give brief details of where and when each fish is to be found, what time of day it should be fished for and which hooks and flies/bait should be used. The outermost rectangular border includes the title, an oval portrait of Sir Izaak Walton at each corner and a series of shaped boxes containing details of flies and baits, under the headings 'Flies', 'Pastes', 'Worms' and 'Fishes and Insects'.
Sir Izaak Walton (1595-1683) was the author of the most famous book on fishing and a classic of English literature: The Compleat Angler ; or , the Contemplative Man's Recreation. It was written during the horrific English Civil War, and was Walton's attempt to draw attention to the benevolence of a simple, virtuous life.