We Nerdy History girls do a lot of compare and contrast between Then and Now, in fashion especially, but also in terms of human behavior. While in New York City on Saturday, I went to the International Center of Photography, to see, among other things, Murder is My Business, an exhibition of photographs by the famous mid-20th C tabloid photographer Weegee, one of my personal favorites. As I walked through the exhibition, oddly enough, I found myself comparing and contrasting these stark black & white photos to the work of one of the great illustrators of the Regency era, Thomas Rowlandson.
|Weegee, At an East Side Murder, 1943. © Weegee/International Center of Photography.|
Yet I saw as well a direct connection to one of the early 19th century’s chroniclers of London life, Rowlandson—and in particular, his many illustrations dealing with criminal courts and executions. When executions were done publicly, they attracted mobs of spectators, and in Rowlandson’s works, we see some of the same range of emotions as in the Weegee photographs. An example is An Execution at Newgate, 1803.
|Thomas Rowlandson, Dr. Syntax Attends the Execution, 1820, courtesy Yale Center for British Art|
More about the Weegee exhibition, here and here.