Document Type


Publication Date

July 2012


Colby College. Art Dept.


In May 1797, Benjamin West—President of the Royal Academy, Historical Painter to the Court of King George III, and Surveyor of the King's Pictures—exhibited a small genre painting titled A Drayman Drinking at the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy in London. It was one of seven paintings West exhibited that year, and the only one overlooked by the reviewer for the Times. The critic's oversight may have stemmed from the unprecedented number of paintings on view (nearly twelve hundred, four hundred more than were hung the previous year) and the resulting overcrowding of the principle exhibition room. Through his elision, he may also have politely signaled his disapproval of the painting, which depicts men and women of various classes and occupations mingling on a city street.



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