Flower sellers

4 January 2008 by Karen

large painting showing a poor woman selling flowers accompanied by three small children

Flower Sellers of London (1875) by Louis Gustave Doré (1833-1883)

Just when I was feeling hard-done-by for being back at work after Christmas when someone people have until Monday, I was sent this image which had the dual effect of being both depressing and uplifting. It’s a rather huge piece by Gustave Doré called ‘Flower Sellers of London’ which entered our collections in 1880.  The reason I’m flagging it is because it’s about to undergo pretty extensive conservation before going on display at the Walker, where I’m sure it’ll be very popular with the public – a nice painting with a sad story, pretty protagonists and a bit of social realism thrown in.

Doré was a French illustrator and painter who, like other Romantic artists, often visited London specifically to paint such scenes of poverty. At the time London was the largest and richest city in the world with extremes of opulence and misery. Apparently Doré “was touched by the sad beauty” of such flower sellers, many of whom are thought to have been prostitutes.  

Will keep you posted on the progress of the conservation work.

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