Sharp, orange man, Colchester, by John Dempsey, 1823. Collection: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, presented by C. Docker, 1956
Sharp, orange man, Colchester, by John Dempsey, 1823. Collection: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, presented by C. Docker, 1956

Dempsey’s People. A Folio of British Street Portraits 1824-1844, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Venue: National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

 

Until Sunday 22 October 2017

 

This is the first exhibition to showcase the compelling watercolour images of English street people made by the itinerant English painter John Dempsey throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.

 

Featuring 52 rarely-seen portraits, the exhibition profiles the stories of town-criers, match-sellers, chimney-sweeps, street-food vendors, and numerous other characters populating the urban landscape of Regency-era and early Victorian Britain. Remarkable in their incisive realism and providing rare visual documentation of people otherwise overlooked by history, Dempsey’s portraits bring to life the fictional worlds of writers like Charles Dickens, presenting a vivid and distinctive survey of street people in British cities and towns. Similarly, the life and work of John Dempsey stands as representative of a substantial but uncelebrated layer of pictorial production in this era, a pre-photographic cultural infrastructure of journeyman oil painters, watercolourists, miniaturists, popular portraitists and cutters and painters of shades.

 

More on the exhibition here >>

 

The full folio of drawings online here >>

 

Exhibition catalogue information here >>

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