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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Dempsey's people

A folio of British street portraits 1824–1844

Dempsey’s people: a folio of British street portraits 1824–1844 is the first exhibition to showcase the compelling watercolour images of English street people made by the itinerant English painter John Dempsey throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.

More information on Dempsey's people

Selected images

Copeman, gardener, Great Yarmouth by John Dempsey
Copeman, gardener, Great Yarmouth by John Dempsey
Billy the match man, Liverpool, 1844 by John Dempsey
Billy the match man, Liverpool, 1844 by John Dempsey
Pember of Bath by John Dempsey
Pember of Bath by John Dempsey
Crossing-sweeper, London by John Dempsey
Crossing-sweeper, London by John Dempsey
‘Whistling Billy’ of York by John Dempsey
‘Whistling Billy’ of York by John Dempsey
Muffin man by John Dempsey
Muffin man by John Dempsey
A maniac by John Dempsey
A maniac by John Dempsey
Bathing woman, Bridlington, c.1825 by John Dempsey
Bathing woman, Bridlington, c.1825 by John Dempsey
James Guidney, ‘Jemmy the Rock Man’, Birmingham, c.1830 by John Dempsey
James Guidney, ‘Jemmy the Rock Man’, Birmingham, c.1830 by John Dempsey
Old Joe of Portsmouth by John Dempsey
Old Joe of Portsmouth by John Dempsey
Bun man, Plymouth by John Dempsey
Bun man, Plymouth by John Dempsey
Billman, 1825 by John Dempsey
Billman, 1825 by John Dempsey
Old soldier, Salisbury by John Dempsey
Old soldier, Salisbury by John Dempsey
Match man, Salisbury by John Dempsey
Match man, Salisbury by John Dempsey
Old soldier, Hadleigh by John Dempsey
Old soldier, Hadleigh by John Dempsey
‘Perpendicular’, York by John Dempsey
‘Perpendicular’, York by John Dempsey
Beggar, Durham by John Dempsey
Beggar, Durham by John Dempsey
Beadle, Winchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Beadle, Winchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Selling watercress, Salisbury by John Dempsey
Selling watercress, Salisbury by John Dempsey
Sand-man, Whitby, c. 1825 by John Dempsey
Sand-man, Whitby, c. 1825 by John Dempsey
Old Bishop, pieman, Harwich by John Dempsey
Old Bishop, pieman, Harwich by John Dempsey
Match woman, c.1823 by John Dempsey
Match woman, c.1823 by John Dempsey
Policeman, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Policeman, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Tailor's man, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Tailor's man, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Porter, Charing Cross, 1824 by John Dempsey
Porter, Charing Cross, 1824 by John Dempsey
‘Cotton’, Norwich, c.1823 by John Dempsey
‘Cotton’, Norwich, c.1823 by John Dempsey
Black Charley, Norwich, 1823 by John Dempsey
Black Charley, Norwich, 1823 by John Dempsey
‘Billy’ Donkin, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
‘Billy’ Donkin, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Robert Bloomfield, the poet, 1823 by John Dempsey
Robert Bloomfield, the poet, 1823 by John Dempsey
Ann ‘Old Nanny’ Chapman, Bury St. Edmunds by John Dempsey
Ann ‘Old Nanny’ Chapman, Bury St. Edmunds by John Dempsey
Thomas Archbold, Durham, 1826 by John Dempsey
Thomas Archbold, Durham, 1826 by John Dempsey
Wilkerson, Crier, Ipswich, 1823 by John Dempsey
Wilkerson, Crier, Ipswich, 1823 by John Dempsey
Sharp, orange man, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Sharp, orange man, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Match woman, Woolwich,1824 by John Dempsey
Match woman, Woolwich,1824 by John Dempsey
Blind beggar, Woolwich, 1824 by John Dempsey
Blind beggar, Woolwich, 1824 by John Dempsey
Thomas Edwards, Winchester,1823 by John Dempsey
Thomas Edwards, Winchester,1823 by John Dempsey
Henry Collins, Bellman, Winchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Henry Collins, Bellman, Winchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Tommy Raeburn, the Ayrshire Hermit, c. 1830s by John Dempsey
Tommy Raeburn, the Ayrshire Hermit, c. 1830s by John Dempsey
Cary, Billsticker, Great Yarmouth, 1823 by John Dempsey
Cary, Billsticker, Great Yarmouth, 1823 by John Dempsey
Billy Bean, Butchers’ carrier, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Billy Bean, Butchers’ carrier, Scarborough, 1825 by John Dempsey
Samuel Hevens, Jewish old clothes man, Greenwich, 1824 by John Dempsey
Samuel Hevens, Jewish old clothes man, Greenwich, 1824 by John Dempsey
Richard ‘Dickey’ Fletcher, bellman, Bridlington, c. 1825 by John Dempsey
Richard ‘Dickey’ Fletcher, bellman, Bridlington, c. 1825 by John Dempsey
Charles McGee, crossing sweeper, London, c. 1824 by John Dempsey
Charles McGee, crossing sweeper, London, c. 1824 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Diana) Croker, mat woman, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Diana) Croker, mat woman, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mark Custings, known as Blind Peter, and his boy, Norwich, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mark Custings, known as Blind Peter, and his boy, Norwich, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Elizabeth) Leagrove, attendant at the gaol, Ipswich, c. 1823 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Elizabeth) Leagrove, attendant at the gaol, Ipswich, c. 1823 by John Dempsey
David Love, commonly called the Nottingham Poet, 1824 by John Dempsey
David Love, commonly called the Nottingham Poet, 1824 by John Dempsey
Doorkeeper, Royal Grand National Menagerie, Exeter ‘Change, London, c.1824 by John Dempsey
Doorkeeper, Royal Grand National Menagerie, Exeter ‘Change, London, c.1824 by John Dempsey
Little John of Colchester, a poor lunatic, c.1823 by John Dempsey
Little John of Colchester, a poor lunatic, c.1823 by John Dempsey
John Wardle, Sunderland, 1825 by John Dempsey
John Wardle, Sunderland, 1825 by John Dempsey
John Hallam, Derby, c. 1820s by John Dempsey
John Hallam, Derby, c. 1820s by John Dempsey
Portrait of John Rutherford by John Dempsey
Portrait of John Rutherford by John Dempsey

Related information

Mary (or Diana) Croker, mat woman, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Diana) Croker, mat woman, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Diana) Croker, mat woman, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey
Mary (or Diana) Croker, mat woman, Colchester, 1823 by John Dempsey

Unknown drawer

Magazine article by Dr David Hansen, 2017

Dempsey’s People curator David Hansen chronicles a research tale replete with serendipity, adventure and Tasmanian tigers.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.