- Museum number
Interior of a London Coffee-house; maid in white lace frontage behind canopied bar and manservant taking clay pipes from a chest, at centre, another servant pouring coffee, to right, group of men seated on benches with newspapers and cups, in background, fire with cauldron, various paintings and notices on wall
- Production date
- 1690-1700 (circa)
Height: 147 millimetres
Width: 220 millimetres
- Curator's comments
2021-2022 27 Oct-8 May, London, British Museum, G43a, Life in a Cup label text
Interior of a coffeehouse
Men met in coffeehouses to exchange commercial information, discuss politics and the arts while drinking coffee, smoking and perusing broadsheets. The coffeehouse as forum for political discussion alarmed the authorities and King Charles II banned them in 1675. Information exchange enabled in coffeehouses led to developments in financial journalism, the modernisation of the Stock Exchange and the establishment of companies such as Lloyd’s Insurance.
1690-1700 (inscribed falsely 1668), England
This drawing is a rare visual record of a late 17th-century London coffee house interior, in a style similar to that used for fan painting of the period. The costumes suggest a date in the mid or late 1690s. It is discussed in the following exhibition catalogues:
1981 May-Aug, Brighton Museum, 'Eating & Drinking in Britain', no. L2; 1987 Apr-Aug, Museum of London, 'Londoners'; 1987 June-Aug, BM, Hilliard to Hogarth, no.181; 1999/00 Oct-Feb, Museum of London, 'London Eats Out'.
It has also been reproduced in S. D. and M. D Coe, 'The True History of Chocolate', p. 171
Stainton & White 1987
The costume of the figures suggests a date in the mid- or late 1690s: the inscription "A.S.1668" is certainly false. The scene might almost be taken as an illustration to Henri Misson's description of London coffee houses in his 'Mémoires et Observations Faites par un Voyageur en Angleterre', first published in The Hague in 1698 and reissued in an English translation in 1719, p. 39: "These [Coffee] Houses, which are very numerous in London, are extreamly convenient. You have all Manner of News there: You have a good fire, which you may sit by as long as you please: You have a Dish of Coffee; you meet your Friends for the Transaction of Business, and all for a Penny, if you do not care to spend more."
In style and technique this drawing has much in common with English fan-painting of the period, and it may be compared with the somewhat later examples by Thomas Loggon (1706-c. 1780). Drawn in a rather charmingly naive manner, this is a rare visual record of a late seventeenth-century coffee-house interior.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964 Dec-May, BM, Hogarth, no.87
1981 May-Aug, Brighton Museum, 'Eating & Drinking in Britain', no. L2
1987 Apr-Aug, London, Museum of London, 'Londoners' Exhibition'
1987 June-Aug, BM, Hilliard to Hogarth, no.181
1987 Sept-Nov, New Haven, YCBA, Hilliard to Hogarth, no. 181
1999/00 Oct-Feb, London, Museum of London, London Eats Out
2017-2018 30 Sep-25 Feb, London, V&A, Opera: City
2021-2022 27 Oct-8 May, London, British Museum, G43a, Life in a Cup
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number