Mr. Pecksniff, looking sweetly over the half-door of
the

Mr. Pecksniff, looking sweetly over the half-door of the bar, and into the vista of snug privacy beyond, murmured "Good evening, Mrs. Lupin." (1870s) illustration by Fred Barnard for Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit, Chapter III, page 9. 9.4 cm x 13.8 cm. Scanned image and text 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.]

Whereas Phiz thirty years earlier had chosen Pecksniff and his daughters snugly and smugly ensconced in their parlour as his subject for Chapter 2, Barnard moves from his initial, uncaptioned plate depicting Pecksniff’s having taken a tumble at the foot of his own steps in Chapter 2 (p. 1) to the snuggery of the village public house and its proprietress. Pecksniff has been summoned by Mrs. Lupin to lend a professional opinion as to the state of health of the elderly gentleman just taken ill upon the road. Since the letterpress has already introduced readers to both the figures in and the setting of this second illustration, Barnard could simply have provided a portrait of the cheery publican, the Widow Lupin, "broad, buxom, comfortable, and good looking" (Ch. 3) whose visage betokens "hearty participation in the good things of the larder and the cellar," but he has not. Ample-skirted and "comely" as in Dickens's description, Barnard's Mrs. Lupin is neither "dimpled" nor "plump," if we may judge by her profile. As in the novel, she is shown seated by her fireside in the little back parlour. Pecksniff has removed his hat, but has yet to enter and remove his gloves in order to warm his hands before the fire. Made apprehensive by the old gentleman's suspicious nature and pointed interrogation of her in the sick-chamber (the scene Phiz had chosen to depict) minutes earlier, Mrs. Lupin swings around in her chair as Pecksniff announces his benign and soothing presence in customary, oily manner. (A little more obsequiousness accompanied by writhing of the hands and we would have Uriah Heep foreshadowed.) Barnard has filled in the bulk of the parlour scene from his own imagination, providing such details as the mother cat and two kittens (right), Mrs. Lupin's stitchery on the candle-lit table (centre), and the open shelves on either side of her dutch door, none of which constitutes the sort of emblemmatic significance with which Phiz imbued his scenes. Pecksniff, his dress and figure providing visual continuity from the opening illustration, is upstage centre, ready to play the role of the amiable and concerned professional man bent on performing an altruistic act. This second plate, then, sets us up for the third in Barnard's sequence: the sanctimonious hypocrite and the irascible, suspicious patient.

References

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, with 59 illustrations by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1871-1880. The copy of the Household Edition from which this picture was scanned was the gift of George Gorniak, Editor of The Dickens Magazine, whose subject for the fifth series, beginning in January 2008, was this novel.


Victorian Web Overview Victorian Book Illustration Charles Dickens Fred Barnard

Last modified 28 January 2008