Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case X, Shelf 37, Box A

An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials

Photograph
1877-1878 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleStreet Life in London (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Woodburytype
Brief Description
An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials
Physical Description
Photograph
Dimensions
  • Unmounted height: 11cm
  • Width: 9cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 04/10/2000 by PaperCons
Gallery Label
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)
Credit line
Given by Mrs D. Crisp
Object history
Taken in London by John Thomson (born in Edinburgh, 1837, died in London, 1921)
Summary
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.
Collection
Accession Number
PH.330-1982

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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