Whilst wondering about The City of London one weekend, I accidently came across Leadenhall Market. I had no idea it was there and it is a bit of a shock at first site. An ornate red cake wedding cake of a building muscled in either side by concrete and glass.
If I choose to paint somewhere I generally note I down and come back later. Though on this day I got to work right away.
About Leadenhall Market
The original market dates right back to the 14th century. We can, however, be pretty certain that it went all the way back to Roman times as it is slap bang right in the middle of Roman London.
The structure, as it stands today, was built in 1881 at the height of the Victorian era, and in true Victorian style spared no expense. Sir Horace Jones (who also designed Billingsgate and Smithfield market) was the chosen architect. He decided to go for the 17th century Dutch look accompanied by the very modern cast iron and glass roof to make it a wholly covered market for the Victorian well to do looking for the best in meat, game and poultry.
Over time it fell onto hard times, and I have no idea how it managed to avoid the wrecking ball in the 1960’s and 70’s but it did. The market’s final salvation came in 1990 when it received monies for restoration bringing it back to its glory days.
Currently, it serves as a weekday shopping location for London’s financial district. It features shops selling fancy goods, a number of top restaurants and pubs as well as pavement cafes. The perfect location for a lunch time or after work drink.
Painting Leadenhall Market
The main market entrance is on Gracechurch Street which is a pretty tight, and narrow to get a full view. So if I painted it with true perspective, I would miss out on all that delicious detail. In the end, I decided to cheat it a fair bit to make it work. I do that all the time, and no one has complained yet.
I did this painting on a Sunday. This being the financial district, the City of London, is almost empty at the weekends and particularly empty on a Sunday so I had the place to myself more or less. Without crowds, I could work with relative freedom with only the occasional passer-by to add to the view.
I considered packing it with city workers dashing to and fro or celebrating bonuses at the cafes, though in the end, I decided against it as I rather liked its deserted face. And painting it without customers gave me the opportunity to show the path through the market to the exit beyond on Leadenhall Place.
All in all I was pleased with my painting and it sold too. I have it in my mind to paint it again, this time with the city workers. I may paint it from the other end as well. We shall see.
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