The French artist Gustave Doré also imagines the city’s ruinous destiny in his visual report on the city, London: A Pilgrimage, published in 1869. The nightmare of London’s future continued to captivate artists in the 20th century.
In 1869, Dore teamed up with journalist Blanchard Jerrold to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. For the next four years, Jerrold and Dore explored the dark underbelly of the largest, most fashionable, and most prosperous city in the world, visiting night refuges, staying in cheap lodging houses and making rounds of the opium den. The duo were often accompanied by plain-clothes policemen. They travelled up and down the river and attended fashionable events at Lambeth Palace, the boat race and the Derby.
In 1872, the completed book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published. The book became very popular and a great commercial success, even though Gustave Doré got much of it wrong.
The title page of “London: A Pilgrimage”.
Dudley Street, Seven Dials.
Covent Garden Market, Early Morning.
“Covent Garden Market is the most famous place of barter in England – it has been said, by people who forget the historical Halle of Paris, in the world,” wrote Blanchard Jerrold.
Inside the Docks
”We have travelled through the commerce of a world in little. The London Docks alone receive something like two thousand ships a year.”
Bluegate Fields in Shadwell
Scripture Reader in a Night Refuge
Billingsgate, Early Morning
”The opening of Billingsgate Market is one of those picturesque tumults which delight the artist’s eye.”
The Workmen’s Train. Steam trains at Gower Street station on the Metropolitan underground line, which had opened in 1863.
”At the cost of sundry blows and much buffeting from the hastening crowds, we make notes of Pickle-Herring Street: now pushed to the road, and now driven against the wall.”
Warehousing in the City
”The warehouse-men pause aloft on their landing-stages, book in hand, to contemplate us … The man bending beneath an immense sack turns up his eyes from under his burden, and appears pleased that he has disturbed us.”
Wentworth Street, Whitechapel
”From the Refuge by Smithfield we rattled through dark lanes, across horrid, flashing highways, to the Whitechapel Police Station, to pick up the superintendent of savage London.”
The Organ in the Court
The Devil’s Acre — Westminster
“By the noble Abbey is the ignoble Devil’s Acre, hideous where it now lies in the sunlight!”