Oil on canvas, 17 x 21 inches. The collection of Mr. and Mrs. Sandor Korein.
Bardolph is one of Falstaff's cronies, usually found, as here in Marks's painting, at the Boar's Head Tavern (embossed on the back of his chair in the head of a boar). On the table are his usual accoutrements--cards and dice. He stares forlornly into his jug, which is probably empty; the last few drops of drink have dribbled from his cup onto his tunic. Equally empty, it seems, is his purse, which lies flat against his leg.
A lifetime of drinking has had its effect on the rogue; Fluellen, the Welsh soldier, describes the alcohol-ravaged face of Bardolph in Act III, Scene iv, of Henry V:
his face is all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and flames o' fire: and his lips blows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire, sometimes plue and sometimes red; but his nose is executed and his fire's out.
In Henry IV, Part 1, Falstaff and Bardolph argue (Act III, Scene iii). Falstaff knows Bardolph is a devil, but the scoundrel has his uses. If he has no other redeeming qualities, his nose at least serves as a beacon and a reminder of hell-fire:
Do thou amend thy face, and I'll amend my life: thou art our admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop, but 'tis in the nose of thee; thou art the Knight of the Burning Lamp. . . . I make as good use of it as many a man doth of a Death's-head or a memento mori: I never see thy face but I think upon hell-fire and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his robes, burning, burning. If thou wert any way given to virtue,l would swear by thy face; my oath should be 'By this fire, that's God's angel:' but thou art altogether given over; and wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter darkness. When thou rannest up Gadshill in the night to catch my horse, if I did not think thou hadst been an ignis fatuus or a ball of wildfire, there's no purchase in money. O, thou art a perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! Thou hast saved me a thousand marks in links and torches, walking with thee in the night betwixt tavern and tavern: but the sack that thou hast drunk me would have bought me lights as good cheap at the dearest chandler's in Europe. I have maintained that salamander of yours with fire any time this two and thirty years; God reward me for it!