Cries of London - London Street Traders, Pedlars and Early Images - A One-hour Lecture on 15 March

For centuries, those who had no other means of income could sell wares in the street. 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 a 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. It highlights the most significant examples, tells stories about the artists and the hawkers, and reveals the unexpected social realities contained within these gaudy prints produced for the mass market.

This illustrated talk explores the significance and enduring legacy of the Cries of London, They are the precursors of the modern culture of street photography. In the 20th century, earlier images of the Cries, including those by Wheatley, were recycled commercially on to cigarette cards, biscuit tins and - most famously - Yardley talcum powder.

The Gentle Author concludes 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 since medieval times. Based on the book of the same title, visit the fascinating blog of the Gentle Author at Spitalfields Life

A one-hour talk on Thursday 15 March at 2pm, cost £8.00/£6.40 SoG members. Places should be pre-booked, through our website or by telephone: 020 7553 3290 (Tue-Thu & Sat). Do you have a question? email the events department.

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