M.B. No.49

No. 49  ‘The Composer’s Dream’ – F. Lancelott

Probably the first advertisement for the ‘M.B.’ came in ‘The Illustrated London News’ on March 8th. 1845, which advertised No. 9 as being ‘Published this Day’ and also that   ‘Each Weekly Number, price only 3d. is embellished with an appropriate engraving on steel’. This would put the first number as having been printed on January 11th. 1845, and No. 49 dating to December 13th. 1845. However the editor, Francis Lancelott, when compiling 6 months worth of pieces to be bound in to a volume, would change some of the pieces for one of his own,  which explains why there are two No. 49’s and hence a problem arises with dating - never mind.  All these changed numbers are printed in green in the catalogue.

Looking at the vignette of  ‘The Composer’s Dream’, it looks so promising with quotes from Shakespeare’s MacBeth – ‘..sleep shall neither night (n)or day..’ and ‘Hence loath’d melancholy black Cerebus’ from Milton’s ‘L’Allegro’. One might be hoping for a Lieder ohne Worte or a Träumerei, but no -  we get a quadrille!  This vignette by George Davis Gibbs, is his only illustration in the ‘M.B.’ and one would like to think of it as a portrait of Lancelott.  I think, however, that Gibbs gave his drawing to Alfred Ashley who then etched the complete image adding the fairies and little creatures which are so much in his style.

The little caricature of the artist sitting on a copy of  ‘La Sonnambula Quadrille’ - M.B.No.30, Lancelott/Bellini, should logically be Davis sketching Lancelott.   However, I like to think that it is Alfred Ashley - well why not? 


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