Street life in the Great Wen
March 30, 2014 11:19 PM   Subscribe

If you don't like Marcellus Laroon's pictures of London street life in the late 1600s, perhaps Thomas Rowlandson's "Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders" from 1820 are more to your liking. Moving up in society, take a look at what the fat cat bankers of 1824 wore, courtesy of Richard Dighton and contrast them with the costumes of the lower orders as depicted by T. L. Busby in the same year. All found at the Spitalfields Life blog, which has an uncanny knack for finding these extraordinary depictions of London street life in previous centuries.
posted by MartinWisse (11 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
I feel the Dutch Woman's fame was well-deserved.
posted by Segundus at 1:04 AM on March 31, 2014

I love this blog, and follow it fairly regularly. My research tends to deal a lot with that area, and it is an amazing resource to get more in touch with the life of the place. And I've ALWAYS loved those Laroon images. They feel so alive.
posted by strixus at 1:06 AM on March 31, 2014

"The Lower Orders." vs "The Upper Class/The Right Sort/Stock." Says it all, really. Remember, this is how the posh still think of the poor, as the lower orders..
posted by marienbad at 1:28 AM on March 31, 2014

I like the somewhat hard to decipher labels -- "COFFEE's the thing! Go it ye TIGERS!" Has a certain perplexing charm.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:47 AM on March 31, 2014

All I could think of with the bankers was how much they seemed to be pushing their bellies out and hyperextending their lumbar spines. I guess big bellies must have been in vogue.

Some great slices of life. I guess posture mastery must have been some form of acrobatics. Interesting to see how many of the lower professions are still prevalent in the major cities of Asia. Makes me think of the first chapter of The Ghost Map.
posted by Telf at 2:35 AM on March 31, 2014

I love the shady, back-alley statuary dealer.
posted by kavasa at 4:56 AM on March 31, 2014

Vuvuzelas were a lot fancier in the 17th century.
posted by ardgedee at 5:41 AM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

And vuvuzelas made of the Fineste Glaff, for whooping it up at the Royal Society Lectures, with a bracing mug of new river water!
posted by Jake DeNiro at 6:08 AM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was interested in the saloop panel. What is saloop? It turns out that it is salep as drunk in England. (Did this really need to entries, Wikipedia?) More on saloop.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:52 AM on March 31, 2014

A friend of mine turned me on to Spitalfields Life a couple of years ago. Not everything it posts is for me, but it's one of the more enjoyable history blogs I read. I particularly love the old artwork and photographs (like those fat cat bankers, whom I remembered when I saw the first one).
posted by immlass at 7:06 AM on March 31, 2014

posted by The Whelk at 7:52 AM on March 31, 2014

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