Ca. 1850. Original pencil drawing by prolific British caricaturist and illustrator John Leech [1817-1864]. Leech is most famous for his association with Punch magazine.
The drawing, titled in pencil 'A pretty kettle of fish!' depicts a puzzled parson and his exasperated cook with a long caption written in pencil in the artist's own hand:
"Puseyite Parson - "What! want to leave your situation! Why, I thought you were perfectly satisfied!"
Cook - "Well, sir, the fact is, I ain't equal to them fast days; for what with a hegg here and a hegg there, and little bits of fish for breakfastes (sic), and little bits o' fish for dinners, and the sweet omelicks (sic) and the fried and the stewed hoysters, and the bashawed lobsterses, and one think and the hother, there's so much cooking that I ain't even time to make up a cap!"
The drawing provides a vivid sense of the artist's development of the subject. In the drawing both the parson and cook are more sympathetically portrayed, with the parson more slender and with less exaggerated features, and the cook appearing younger, with her hands clutching the folds of her skirt. Two trial pencil studies of the parson's profile are visible above the top margin.
Published in Leech's 'Pictures of Life and Character: From the Collection of Mr. Punch' [1842-1864]. Pencil sketch paper size is 7.25" x 10.5", laid on board; outer board has residue of resin where mount was attached, nowhere near the image. Very good condition. Item #19181