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Dempsey's People
A Folio of British Street People 1824-1844

HANSEN, DAVID

42 in stock
$64.95
$61.05 NPG Members

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History tends to ignore the lowly. Those who dwelt at the fringes of society, or among the ranks of the sick, poor or destitute, have rarely left more than the faintest mark upon it, more usually none...

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History tends to ignore the lowly. Those who dwelt at the fringes of society, or among the ranks of the sick, poor or destitute, have rarely left more than the faintest mark upon it, more usually none at all.
This story begins with curator David Hansen's chance discovery of a set of watercolour portraits over 20 years ago, and culminates with a new body of research into little-known portraitist John Dempsey and his enchanting portrayal of British street people. For the first time, 52 of Dempsey's beguiling watercolour portraits are brought together to provide a fresh perspective on the arthistorical narrative of 19th century society. It is a story of the extraordinary travels of Dempsey around Britain, in a time of limited transportation, through to the eventual downturn in the fortunes of travelling painters with the emergence of photography. Nearly 200 years later, many of the subjects of these portraits are identifiable. Dempsey's ode to the town personalities he encountered on his travels provide rare insight into the individuals who populated small towns across Britain. There are bellmen and beggars; hawkers and match-sellers; old soldiers, poets, eccentrics; and the physically and mentally disabled.
Drawn from the collections of Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand, Dempsey's People will draw you into the life and times of Georgian England.

Published: NPG, Canberra, 2017

Item# 55939