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Cries of London: The Gentle Author's Cries of London
  • Category
    Talks and Discussions
  • Date(s)
    11 December 2015
  • Time
    7:30 PM
  • Price
    Free
Cries of London: The Gentle Author's Cries of London
Hawker selling ‘Hair Brooms’ outside Shoreditch Church from William Marshall Craig’s 'Itinerant Traders of London in their Ordinary Costume', 1804 (London Collection, Bishopsgate Institute Archive)
For centuries, those who had no other means of income could sell wares in the street and, by turning their presence into a performance through song, they won the hearts of generations and came to embody the spirit of London itself. These hawkers inspired many artists, including Marcellus Laroon (1653-1702), Francis Wheatley (1747-1801), William Marshall Craig (died 1827) and John Thomas Smith (1766-1833), to create series of portraits known as the ‘Cries of London.’

The Gentle Author has published the first major illustrated survey in colour of this important cultural tradition, highlighting the most significant examples, telling the stories of both the artists and the hawkers, and revealing the unexpected social realities contained within these gaudy prints produced for the mass market.

This illustrated lecture will explore the significance and enduring legacy of the Cries of London which were precursors of the modern culture of street photography and how in the 20th century, earlier images of the Cries, including those by Wheatley, were recycled commercially onto cigarette cards, biscuit tins and - most famously - Yardley talcum powder.

The Gentle Author will conclude with a survey of the contemporary situation for street traders and pedlars in the capital, reflecting upon the ambivalence with which they have been regarded in London since medieval times.

Free admission; advance booking required.

*A postage fee of £1 applies for sending out tickets booked online or over the telephone. If you would rather collect tickets from venue then please select this option at time of booking.

Further information

  • Telephone
    020 7392 9200

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