In Pictures: Street Cries - Images of London's Poor at the Museum of London

By Culture24 Staff | 24 March 2011
a coloured drawing showing a man in rags trying to sell his wares to a man at a shop window
Thomas Rowlandson, Buy a Trap, a Rat-trap, Buy my Trap (circa 1798)© Museum of London
Street Cries: Depictions of London’s Poor, Museum of London, London, March 25 - July 31 2011

The Museum of London is mining its impressive collection of 18th and 19th century prints for a fascinating exhibition which combines social history and the development of illustration and printmaking.

Featuring a lively parade of street vendors and members of London’s underprivileged, ranging from travelling carpenters and cane-weavers to prostitutes and criminals, Street Cries explores the changing depictions of the urban poor across two centuries.

an illustration showing a man in a frock coat and wig approaching a woman on a street
Edward Penny, A City Shower© Museum of London
Works on show include pieces by Gustave Doré, Théodore Géricault, Thomas Rowlandson and Paul Sandby.

Some of them present an idealised vision of the poor; others are amongst the first works of art to attempt a more realistic view of London’s poorest inhabitants.

an illustration showinbg a drunken woman in a chaior with wheels on it
Théodore Géricault, A Paraletic Woman (1820)© Museum of London
“The Museum of London’s extensive art collection contains many items which are rarely displayed for conservation reasons,” says curator Francis Marshall.

“This show offers the chance to see some of our gems: delicate watercolours and prints depicting gritty London subject matter.”

a pen and ink drawing showing a girl in rags carrying a basket under one arm
Paul Sandby, Shrimp Seller (1759)© Museum of London
As well as offering a rare chance to see important prints the exhibition poses interesting questions about how society in these periods was organised, the motives of those making, selling and buying the prints, and the status and identity of the people portrayed.

  • Open 10am-6pm. Admission free.
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