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Beer In Art #136: Gustave Dore’s Barclay Perkins Brewery Workers

This week’s work of art is by the French artist known for his engravings, on wood and steel, along with his simple drawings, Gustave Doré, who did at least a couple of drawings in pencil, pen and ink of Barclay Perkins Brewery Workers.

One of the most well-known, titled Ouvriers Brasseurs de Barclay Perkins, or Barclay Perkins Brewery Workers, which was completed in 1870, today hangs in the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg (in English the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art).

It depicts the brewers not working, but resting, presumably in the middle of a hard day, still wearing their aprons and forage caps. They’re lounging around some barrels apparently in some unused corner of the brewery.

A second, similar drawing, entitled Workmen at Barclay Perkins’s Brewery is in the British Museum. It was done in 1872 and appears to be some of the same workers, although there are less of them and the space they’re in seems less well-defined. It was created using pen and grey ink, black chalk and graphite. Apparently it was a study done for a book of engravings entitled Doré’s London: A Pilgrimage. In Chapter 16 of the book, with the promising title “The Town of Malt,” three drawings of the Barclay Perkins Brewery appear, “together with an engraving after this drawing showing the workers against a more detailed background and with additional figures.”

You can read Doré’s biography at Wikipedia, and find links to more of his work at ArtCyclopedia. There are a few you can also see at a Woodcut Gallery, the Web Museum, Art Collections, toward the bottom of his Wikipedia page, and Cardiff University has a number of the engravings from Doré’s London.

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