An almost deserted street in London in the early morning: a woman serves a man and a boy with a hot drink, and a policeman rests against a bollard. Etching by George Cruikshank, 1839.
- Cruikshank, George, 1792-1878.
Selected images from this work
About this work
"The prominent lamp-post in the centre of the Cruikshank composition establishes a strong vertical that is echoed by the client at the coffee stand, the strong verticals of the narrow buildings, and the city church (centre background) — all of which carry the eye upward, towards the patch of clearing sky between the buildings. Against these cutting-edge verticals are the meandering streets of cobblestone, deserted at this tranquil hour except for the street boy, the proprietress of the coffee-wagon, the static customer, and a police officer, lounging in the background. Cruikshank has juxtaposed signs indicative of modern commerce and food services — "Baker" and "The Rising Sun" — against the symbol of social and historical continuity, the seventeenth-century spire of the Wren City church, pointing heavenward as the clouds retreat and daylight supervenes. The customer in a shopman's apron, perhaps on his way to Covent Garden Market, is one of those reputable denizens who have replaced the drunks and vagrants of the night just ended, but the shutters of the shops have yet to open and greet another day of buying and selling. Although Dickens is rather general in his description of the streets, Cruikshank has inserted the sign of the The Rising Sun public house in Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia — the same area as the Cleveland Street Workhouse, across the street from the shop above which the Dickenses lived when they came up to London from Kent (they had two residents in that area, 1829-32). Thus, apart from being a sort of visual pun pointing towards the time of day, the public-house's sign holds additional significance for Dickens's London readers since the detail situates the sketch much more specifically than the opening of the essay"--Allingham, loc. cit.
The man drinks his tea or coffee from the saucer. On the ground is an instrument (carpet-beater?) and possibly a net