The First Bohemians: Life And Art In London'S Golden Age
Publish Date: 2015-10-01
Author: Vic Gatrell
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The colorful, salacious, and sumptuously illustrated story of Covent Garden, the creative heart of Georgian London
In the teeming, disordered, and sexually charged square half-mile centered on London's Covent Garden something extraordinary evolved in the 18th century. It was the world's first creative Bohemia. The nation's most significant artists, actors, poets, novelists, and dramatists lived here. From Soho and Leicester Square across Covent Garden's Piazza to Drury Lane, and down from Long Acre to the Strand, they rubbed shoulders with rakes, prostitutes, market people, craftsmen, and shopkeepers. It was an often brutal world full of criminality, poverty, and feuds, but also of high spirits, and an intimacy that was as culturally creative as any other in history. Vic Gatrell's spectacular new book recreates this time and place by drawing on a vast range of sources, showing the deepening fascination with real life that resulted in the work of artists like Hogarth, Blake, and Rowlandson, or in great literary works like The Beggar's Opera and Moll Flanders. The First Bohemians is illustrated by more than 200 extraordinary pictures, many rarely seen, for Gatrell celebrates above all one of the most fertile eras in Britain's artistic history. He writes about Joshua Reynolds and J. M. W. Turner as well as the forgotten figures who contributed to what was a true golden age: the men and women who briefly dazzled their contemporaries before being destroyedor madeby this magical but also ferocious world.