Augustus Edwin Mulready was William Mulready's grandson. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography identifies him as the son of William's eldest son Paul, but gives his dates erroneously, as 1855-1938. All other sources agree that he was born in 1843, and he appears in the newspapers as having been one of the winners of "silver medals and books" at the Royal Academy in 1863 (e.g. see "The Royal Academy").

Having, it seems, studied at the Royal Academy Schools, the young Mulready became a genre painter. He was a member of the "Cranbrook Colony" which had taked the then "sleepy village" of Cranbrook, Kent, as its base in the middle of the nineteenth century (see Paxman 140), and was known for painting the kind of everyday rural and domestic scenes which were then felt to be fast disappearing — along with their values. But at some point Mulready moved to London: according to official records, he was married in the Marylebone area in 1874. He is best known now for his scenes of urban life, especially those of little street urchins, which often make a particular feature of posters to "add significance to the subject" (Cowling 168). These, of course, are of special interest now, as are the other contemporary details in the settings. Mulready's death was recorded in the March quarter of 1904.

A. E. Mulready's output was prolific, and Lynda Knead suggests that he reflects more than just the historical context of the times. Knead's particular interest is in gender relations, but she also comments, with wider relevance to his artistic abilities, that even those pictures that seem "easy, untroubling" show "ambiguities of touch, look and speech" (302) that reflect on the social mores of the period. By no means all his pictures are "untroubling," either. So it is worth looking out for what they tell us about the conditions of life in the city, and also for those subtler "ambiguities" with which he has not, in the past, been credited. — Jacqueline Banerjee



Cowling, Mary. Victorian Figurative Painting: Domestic Life and the Contemporary Social Scene. Winterbourne, Berks.: Papadakis, 2000.

"The Cranbrook Colony". Cranbrook Museum. Web. 30 January 2015.

FreeBMD (Births, Marriages and Death records). Web. 30 January 2015.

Lambourne, Lionel. Victorian Painting. London and New York: Phaidon, 1999.

Paxman, Jeremy. The Victorians: Britain through the Paintings of the Age. London: BBC Books (Ebury), 2009. Review.

Pointon, Marcia. "Mulready, William (1786–1863)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 30 January 2015.

Nead, Lynda. "'Many Little Harmless and Interesting Adventures...': Gender and the Victorian City." The Victorian World. Ed. Martin Hewitt. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. 291-307.

"The Royal Academy." The Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald. 22 December 1863: 3. 19th Century British Newspapers (Gale). Web. 30 January 2015.

Last modified 30 January 2015.