Laroon’s images were called ‘The Cryes of the City of London Drawne after the Life’, suggesting he had pounded London’s streets and sketched what he saw. They are innovative in their use of brilliantly observed ‘eye-witness’ detail, designed to reinforce their authenticity. The poles carried by the rabbit seller show the wood grain clearly, while the rabbits’ legs are carefully tied, the fur is bristly, and the whiskers limp. Yet, these images are also fantastical.
Laroon’s characters stand against blank backgrounds, with no hint of the street conditions or the time of day. Their faces are serene and their bodies show no strain. Indeed they are more like professional actors playing a part rather than real-life hawkers.
John Savage (1683 –1700), after Marcellus Laroon (1679 –1772), published by Henry Overton (1676 –1751), 1711
Etching and engraving (3.G.22)