The Dextrous Trimmer, or Poor Pill Garlick left in the Suds

Engraver Richard Houston Irish
After Francis Hayman British
Publisher John Bowles British

Not on view

Within a paneled interior, a portly man sits in a chair, his head wrapped in a towel and body protected by a sheet. With closed eyes and lathered chin, he supports a bowl under his chin, waiting for a barber to finish. The latter proves himself a rascal, however, and heads for a door at right with a moneybag.
Text once printed below, now trimmed away, identified Richard Houston as the engraver who based this image on a painting by Francis Hayman used to decorate a room at London's Vauxhall Gardens. The following verse underscored the meaning:
"The Trimming Rogue secures his Prize,
By closing up the Owners Eyes.
And here the Act you see display'd:--
For Shaving Clean is half the Trade."
Another layer is added through the expression "Poor Pill Garlick" in the title. In eighteenth-century England this meant a scapegoat or wretch and was often applied to bald-headed men whose bald pates were thought to resemble peeled garlic cloves (a connection drawn through the similar pronunciation pill and peel in some dialects).

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