Material and Medium: coloured engraving on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 455 x 555mm (17 15/16 x 21 7/8in.)
Sight size: 322 x 367mm (12 11/16 x 14 7/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2004.1289
This engraving is called 'A Chop-House'. It was published on the 15th October 1781 by the publisher W Dickinson of New Bond Street, London. The artist was H Bunbury. The image depicts two men eating at a table, while at another table a guest sits reading a newspaper and waiting to be served.
Chop houses served a mix of simple, ready prepared roast and boiled meats, pies, steaks and chops. They provided a quick and affordable service for those who wished to dine away from home. Like coffee houses, they were attended by men and were deemed inappropriate places for women. During this time, the role of women was largely restricted to the domestic setting. There was very little opportunity for them to lead public lives.
Chop houses continued to exist into the 1870s. By this time the term was used to describe a range of establishments rather than those offering prepared meats. Chop houses specialising in fish and turtle soup existed in London. Later chop-houses tended to be arranged in smaller cubicles where diners were separated from each other by wooden partitions.
The diners are using the typical cutlery and flatware of the late 1700s. Their forks have the traditional two tines. Three tine forks had recently began to be used at the time this engraving was produced. They became increasingly popular by the end of the 1700s. The long, curved knife blades are also typical of the 1700s. They are a style known as scimitar. The handles are a fashionable shape of the time known as pistol grip. These are sometimes referred to as pistol haft in Sheffield. This type of blade had a dual purpose as the rounded end could be used to scoop up sauce like a spoon. Each table is laid with bottles of sauce. Like today, oil, vinegar and ketchup were popular table condiments at this time.
This work is part of the Bill Brown Collection. Supported by The Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust.Display Location: