The Fiends Frying Pan or Annual Festival of Tom Foolery & Vice.
Published by George Cruikshank , London Sept. 1832
260 x 360 mm
A rare, highly detailed caricature on the decline of Bartholomew Fair in Smithfield, London. Below the tilte is inscribed; Under the Sanction of the Lord Mayor and the Worshipful Court of Aldermen! – In the Age of Intellect!!
A gigantic Devil on the right crouches over a huge frying-pan resting upon a gridiron among swirling flames. With ferocious glee he holds a fork poised over its contents, a dense crowd of tiny men and women drinking and fighting, a squalid saturnalia. Two men hold a fainting or dying woman. Behind the oval surface of the pan are three booths, topped by flags. In the centre one, evidently Richardson’s, performers posture, centred by a demon taking the arm of a befeathered actress; others are a clown and a danseuse. In the other two booths musicians beat a drum and blow a trumpet for a show of Wild Beasts, competing with the clown and zany of the opposite booth..
In the foreground two imps of Hell, squatting on the ground, lean towards each other, holding up a long scroll. One reads; Popular Entertainments Devils on two sticks, Blue Devils, Devils to Pay, Robert the Devil &c&c&c&c. – Popular works Devils Walk, Devils Ride, Devils Drive, Devils…..sD….. The other holds up; Amusements of the People Drunken…. Riot, Robbery, Rascalit,y Licentiousnes,s early Depravity, Debauch(ery), Brutality, Indecency, Blasphemy- “ and these are the Humours of BART’LEMY FAIR O!
On the left a little monster supports on his back a music-book, on which the bars of a gridiron form lines of music, on which the notes are little figures in lines and dots, the music is titled Ye Friends Rejoice and is Pub. by Fry Diavolo Smithfield Bars. Facing from the Devil fom the extreme left is his orchstra, composed of fiends blowing serpents, to suggest an infernal blare of wind instruments. Dark clouds form the background, with a full moon, its features expressing consternation.
Bartholomew Fair, in Smithfield, controlled by the City Corporation and proclaimed annually on St. Bartholomew’s Eve by the Lord Mayor, had long been objected to as a nuisance, and by this time it was in manifest decay. In 1840 Exhibitions were prohibited, after which it dwindled to nothing. It ceased to exist, even nominally, in 1855.