Coming Home from Church by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne) — an illustration for Dickens's Dombey and Son, Chapter 31, facing p. 344 in the "London Edition." Mounted vertically. Dimensions: 10 cm in height, 15.8 cm.

The carriages arrived at the Bride's residence, the players on the bells began to jingle, the band struck up, and Mr. Punch saluted his wife. The people ran, and pushed, and pressed around, while Mr. Dombey, leading Mrs. Dombey by the hand, advanced solemnly into the Feenix Halls. — Dombey and Son, chap. xxxi.

This plate, depicting the arrival of the bride at her residence immediately after the wedding, both recalls the swirling, vigorous action of Phiz's crowd scenes for Barnaby Rudge and anticipates such later crowd scenes as those found in A Tale of Two Cities. Note, for example, how Phiz has positioned Dombey's proud profile in the off-centre in the composition, and through his erect posture and the black hair and height has distinguished him from the other male members of the middle-class present.l Then, too, we note Phiz's familiar fondness for horses (compare to "The Stoppage at the Fountain" and "The Spy's Funeral" in A Tale of Two Cities), and unruly, boisterous crowds accompanied by percussive musicians (the drummer, right, and the tambourine player, upper left of centre). Ironically, the vast expense and pomp of the bourgeois ceremony (as exemplified by the silk hats of the celebrants and the ornate uniforms of the carriage drivers and postillons in the background) seems to be staged for the benefit of the "pauper" audience, extreme left and right. That this marriage may not be successful is implied by another theatrical event, the Punch and Judy show, upper right. In contrast to the sterile solemnity and posing of the middle class wedding-party Phiz sets the vital energy of the gaping, lower-class onlookers.

Image scan, caption, and commentary 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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

References

Dickens, Charles. Works. "London Edition" London: Caxton Publishing Company, 84-86 Chancery Lane, W. C., n. d. (no volume number)


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Illustration Charles Dickens Dombey and Son Phiz (Hablot K. Browne)

Last modified 6 October 2005