The Berger Collection

James Pollard (1792-1867)
Trafalgar Square, ca. 1837-43
Oil on canvas
Signed and indistinctly dated
21 1/4 x 30 1/2 in. (54 x 77.5 cm)

James Pollard became famous for his images of coaching scenes. These lively pictures represent the hustle and bustle of Victorian England. (See his painting Hatchetts – The White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly in the Berger Collection.) Here, in London’s landmark square, Pollard depicts a scene of organized chaos. It is not clear who has the right of way or on which side of the road one was meant to drive. The painting likely was made between 1837, when the National Gallery – pictured in the center background – was completed, and 1843, when Nelson’s Column was erected in the center of the square. Coaching reached its peak in 1835 when there were 3,300 stagecoaches, 700 mail coaches, 35,000 coachmen, guards, and horse-keepers, and a staggering 150,000 horses in service. By the 1840s it had mostly disappeared in favor of the newly introduced long-distance railways. Pollard’s picture serves as a historic record of a short-lived era quickly coming to a close.


Mrs. Hugh J. Chisholm; Baltimore Museum of Art; Jack R. Dick sale, Sotheby's, London, October 31, 1973, lot 28; Arthur Ackerman & Son Ltd., London; private collection, Canada; Christie's, New York, December 6, 1996, lot 56


N. C. Selway, The Golden Age of Coaching and Sport, Leigh-on-Sea, 1972, p. 31, no. 113, repr.; S. A. Walker, Sporting Art in England 1700-1900, 1972, p. 135, pl. 81

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