1869 – Smithfield Prize Cattle


“Smithfield” has a long and mixed history. It refers to that corner of London, where originally political prisoners were executed in public, including famous personages like the Scottish patriot, William Wallace. But its main significance, was as a large common marketplace, for over 800 years; predominantly for meat, later as a Sheep and Cattle Market, where sheep, cattle, horses, pigs and the like were traded and sold in their hundreds of thousands, annually. But by the time Harrison Weir was a young man in the 1840’s, there was a substantial opposition to it, on grounds of filth, effluent, pestilence, danger and of course, what were considered to be acts of cruelty to animals and abominable sights. Many were in favour of relocating the Livestock Market to outside the city.  In December of each year, quality livestock would compete for medals and prize-money. From the 1840’s, with the rebirth of illustrated periodicals, prize-winners were reported in the press, and Harrison Weir was among the artists commissioned to bring them to life in these pages.  Weir in particular, seemed to dominate in his portrayal of livestock for some considerable length of time. His farm upbringing and familiarity with their conformation, giving him a definitive “edge”.

This fine example, from a much later period, shows exactly that level of comfort. It is taken from “The Graphic”, dated December 18th, 1869. Available in A4, A3 and A2 sizing options.


Detail: 1869 Smithfield Prize Cattle by Harrison Weir       Detail: 1869 Smithfield Prize Cattle by Harrison Weir

Details: 1869 – Smithfield Prize Cattle – The Graphic, December 18th, 1869

1869 Smithfield Prize Cattle - The Graphic, Dec 18th.

Full Page Image: The Graphic, Dec 18th, 1869 – Smithfield Prize Cattle

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