Francis Wheatley. "Sweet China Oranges, sweet China/Oranges sucrées, Oranges fines." Cries of London, Plate 3.
London: early 19th century. 16 x 12 (platemarks); 19 x 14 1/2 (sheet). Hand colored engraving. Staining and repaired tear in lower margin. Else, very good condition.
A theme in English printmaking for over three hundred years, "Cries of London" prints form a visual record of London peddlers, charlatans, street hawkers, milkmaids, and grocers who made their living on the city streets. These various series, which presented glimpses of a London where tradesmen would advertise their wares with a musical shout or a melodic rhyme, vary in tone from idealistic visions of contented street vendors to satirical caricatures of humorous urban figures.
Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) was an English painter who was known for portraiture, but lost his customer base when he was elected to the Royal Academy in 1790 in preference to the King's nominee. His career dried up, and he would eventually die in poverty, with fellow Academicians paying for his funeral. In the interim, however, he painted thirteen scenes of the street life of his city - his version of the "Cries of London" - on which his fame rests. Having been born in Covent Garden, he was particularly able to resurrect the cries he heard in and around that area's famous market. Many of the women in his "Cries" are said to resemble his model wife, Clara Maria Leigh, who, when widowed, married actor Alexander Pope and achieved fame as an artist in her own right as Mrs. Pope.
In the original publication of the "Cries" by London publisher Colnaghi & Co. in 1794, several of Wheatley's "Cries," including this one, were engraved by Luigi Schiavonetti (1765-1810). As this print contains the attribution "D'après L. Schiavonetti," it is believed that this is from a later publication date, possibly French, and executed by a different engraver. Scholars of Judaica in visual arts perceive the orange peddler here to be Jewish.