The London Bootblack

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884)


Oil on canvas

H: 132.5 cm (52.17 in.), Width: 89.5 cm (35.24 in.)

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

Source: The Athenaeum (website)

Looking distinctly bored against the jumble of busy horse-drawn traffic, the boy wears a badge proclaiming him to be a member of the Shoe Blacks' Brigade (actually, it says "Shoe Black's Home, Marylebone"). Lionel Lambourne gives good context on the painting, explaining that the boy's employment was Lord Ashley's initiative, and recording the difficulty Bastien Lepage had with his rather recalcitrant model. Lambourne finds the finished painting to be "one of the most striking of all child studies made in Victorian London" (332).

Image download, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee.

This image is identified as being in the public domain. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]