The Royal Chase in Windsor Forest, final steel-engraving by French illustrator Tony Johannot for Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance for the fourth instalment (November 1842) in Ainsworth's Magazine. "Book the First: Anne Boleyn," Chapter VIII, "Of Tristram Lyndwood, the old Forester, and his Grand-daughter Mabel; Of the Peril in which the Lady Anne Boleyn was placed during the chase; And by whom she was rescued," facing p. 68. 9.5 cm high by 13.7 wide, framed. Here Ainsworth complicates the fraught relationship between the thirty-eight-year-old monarch and his young paramour, whose rescue by Sir Thomas Wyat excites Henry Tudor's jealousy. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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Passage Illustrated: The Exciting Climax of the Chase

Henry, who had ill brooked the previous restraint, now grew so​impatient, that Anne begged him to set off after them, when suddenly the cry of hounds burst upon their ears, and the hart was seen issuing from​the dell, closely followed by his pursuers.

The affrighted animal, to the king's great satisfaction, made his way​directly towards the spot where he was stationed; but on reaching the​side of the knoll, and seeing his new foes, he darted off on the right, and tried to regain the thicket below. But he was turned by another band of keepers, and again driven towards the knoll.

Scarcely had Sir Thomas Wyat reined in his steed by the side of the​king, than the hart again appeared bounding up the hill. Anne Boleyn,​who had turned her horse's head to obtain a better view of the hunt,​alarmed by the animal's menacing appearance, tried to get out of his way. But it was too late. Hemmed in on all sides, and driven to desperation by the cries of hounds and huntsmen in front, the hart lowered his horns, and made a furious push at her.

Dreadfully alarmed, Anne drew in the rein so suddenly and sharply, that​she almost pulled her steed back upon his haunches; and in trying to​avoid the stag's attack, caught hold of Sir Thomas Wyat, who was close​beside her. In all probability she would have received some serious injury from the infuriated animal, who was just about to repeat his​assault and more successfully, when a bolt from a cross-bow, discharged​by Morgan Fenwolf, who suddenly made his appearance from behind the beech-tree, brought him to the ground.​[Chapter VIII, "Of Tristram Lyndwood, the old Forester, and his Grand-daughter Mabel; Of the Peril in which the Lady Anne Boleyn was placed during the chase; And by whom she was rescued," pp. 67-68]

Commentary: Baroque Action in Windsor Forest

Johannot's ability to realise landscape and vigorous action serve to make this his most successful contribution to the novel. Although in its complexity the scene would have challenged even so talented an illustrator as George Cruikshank, the most pointed criticism that one might make of Johannot's composition is that he has failed to distinguish between the massive oak and old beech (to the left) in the backdrop.​At the end of this chapter, which constituted the November 1842 instalment in Ainsworth's Magazine, an almost operatic cast fills the stage of​Johannot's epic canvas, but he individualises the characters largely through their poses and juxtapositions, although he clearly communicates the great range of emotions in play. Perhaps he was so successful in the composition because it did not require any knowledge of the precincts of Windsor Castle, which he had likely not even visited. His Rubenesque treatment of the hunt in which Anne Boleyn is momentarily imperilled complements the picturesque idyll of the roe-deer, the ancient trees, and the castle in the distance which Alfred Delamotte has sketched on the spot for Old Oak and Beech-Tree in Windsor Forest (page​67). (One assumes that Delamotte's extensive series of natural and architectural settings required considerable coordination and collaboration between himself and the author.)

With Baroque vivacity unequalled by his other, far more modest contributions to the novel's narrative-pictorial sequence, Johannot realizes every detail of the chaotic scene as it unfolds at the climax of the November 1842 instalment. Hounds, verders, huntsmen, and nobles are all exactly as Ainsworth has described them on the summit of the knoll, "crowned by an old oak​and beech-tree, and commanding a superb view of the castle," 67). ​ Right of centre, Wyat, one of the romance's most dynamic​figures, has just moved to protect Anne Boleyn from the royal hart, who has​collapsed in front of her white palfrey (centre) as the redoubtable huntsman, Morgan Fenwolf, has fired a crossbow bolt into the charging stag in the nick of time.​King Henry, right of centre in the melee but readily distinguishable by his form and visage, in jealousy has taken umbrage​at Sir Thomas Wyat's coming to Lady Anne's assistance, creating a suitable curtain at the​conclusion of the fourth instalment.​The reader wonders how Henry's stern displeasure and sulkiness as he rides off to Windsor will affect Anne Boleyn and​Ainsworth's hero, Wyat.

* J. Don Vann ​notes that, after serialisation, Ainsworth shifted this chapter from its original position as the November instalment by placing Chapters 6 and 7 after it in the volume edition and renumbering.

Delamotte's Complementary Wood-engraving for Chapter VIII

Above: W. Alfred Delamotte's picturesque realisation of the physical setting of the dramatic scene about to unfold in Johannote's steel-engraving; the wood-engraving is dropped into the middle of the passage on the previous page of text, Old Oak and Beech-tree in Windsor Forest, as the woodland glade would have appeared in the autumn of 1842. [Click on image to enlarge it.]


Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.

Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.

Vann, J. Don. "Windsor Castle in Ainsworth's Magazine, June 1842-June 1843." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. P. 23.

Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.

Last modified 4 February 2018