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Photograph - An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials
  • An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials
    Thomson, John, born 1837 - died 1921
  • Enlarge image

An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    1877-1878 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thomson, John, born 1837 - died 1921 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woodburytype

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs D. Crisp

  • Museum number:

    PH.330-1982

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 37, box A

Object Type
The photographer John Thomson (1837-1921) used the 'Woodburytype' process patented in 1864 for the images in Street Life in London, including this photograph. This was a type of photomechanical reproduction using pigmented gelatin, usually of a rich purple-brown colour. The process was complicated but remained popular until about 1900 because of the high quality and permanence of the finished images.

Subject Depicted
This photograph was taken in St Giles, an area of London with many second-hand shops where the poorest people bought and sold their clothes. The owner of this shop had been ill, and so her stock was limited. Second-hand clothes shops were often dirty and likely to harbour diseases, but this particular shop was unusually clean.

Real or Posed?
The people in the pictures were arranged or posed by Thomson to form interesting compositions. However, the results were often naturalistic because the subjects and surroundings were always authentic.

Physical description

Photograph

Place of Origin

London (photographed)

Date

1877-1878 (made)

Artist/maker

Thomson, John, born 1837 - died 1921 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Woodburytype

Dimensions

Height: 11 cm unmounted, Width: 9 cm

Object history note

Taken in London by John Thomson (born in Edinburgh, 1837, died in London, 1921)

Descriptive line

An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials

Labels and date

British Galleries:
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 'STREET LIFE IN LONDON'

These photographs were first published in 12 instalments in 1877-1878 in a series entitled 'Street Life in London'. John Thomson had earlier photographed in China and recognized London as a remarkable new subject. Together with journalist Adolphe Smith he wrote commentaries on each image. 'Street Life' is among the earliest and most evocative examples of social documentary photography. [27/03/2003]

Techniques

Photography

Categories

Photographs; Scotland; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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