A False Alarm on the Road to Gretna. ’tis only the Mail!
About the work
In ‘A False Alarm on the Road to Gretna’, while a young couple travelling intending to Gretna to wed have stopped to refresh their horses, the carriage behind has caught up. However, to their relief, it carries the mail rather than the angry father of the bride-to-be.
Printmaker Richard Gilson Reeve engraved two large series of aquatint prints after works by artist Charles B. Newhouse between 1834 and 1838, both depicting anecdotal scenes of coaching and road incidents. The first, ‘Scenes on the Road’, included 18 plates and was published by Thomas McLean. The second set of 16 plates was first published by J. Watson of Vere Street, London, as ‘Incidents in Travelling’ (re-issued in 1845 by Messrs. Fores as ‘The Roadster’s Album’.) The plate ‘One Mile from Gretna, Our Governor in sight’ was included in the series ‘Incidents in Travelling’.
‘A False Alarm on the Road to Gretna’ (see GAC 15771) was first published as an individual plate by J. Watson in 1836. Watson also re-issued ‘One Mile from Gretna’ as an individual in 1838. Sometime after this date, these two works were issued again, apparently as a pair, by publisher Barnett Moss & Co. of Leman Street, London, who had presumably purchased the plates.
About the artist
London-born Richard Gilson Reeve was the son, and most likely pupil, of Richard Reeve (born 1780). Both father and son were aquatint engravers, mainly of sporting and marine subjects.
Charles B. Newhouse was a painter of coaching scenes and equestrian portraits. Most of his works were painted in watercolour, although there are also examples in oil. Several of his coaching scenes were engraved, mainly by Richard Gilson Reeve, but also by printmakers James Baily and Charles Rosenberg. Newhouse’s horses have been criticised for their exaggerated necks, tiny heads and spindly legs. However, his works also include skilfully-painted landscapes and often feature buildings.