Benjamin Robert Haydon
Punch or May Day 1829

Artwork details

Punch or May Day
Date 1829
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1505 x 1851 mm
frame: 2010 x 2270 x 165 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by George Darling 1862
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1810

Display caption

Haydon had ambitions to be a history painter, but after some early successes struggled to find patrons or public support for his huge canvases of noble themes from history or scripture. In the late 1820s, after repeatedly falling into debt and even being imprisoned, he painted several subjects of contemporary life that he hoped would be more commercial. This richly detailed composition is intended to capture the energy of contemporary London. A crowd mingles with a costumed procession in the Marylebone Road. Haydon thought of calling this picture simply ‘Life’, suggesting that he retained a sense of ambition even in painting such a lowly subject.

February 2016

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