Presented at Court (1935)


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I’ve written about REM (Thomas Reynolds) before, but this is the court case that actually sealed his fate as a pavement artist; although he did carry on working outside St-Martins-in-the-Field until at least 1940, his life was never the same again.

“Rem’s” Masterpieces May No Longer Be Hung on Famous Church Railings

What was probably the beginning of the end of a romantic story of an artist’s fight for recognition in the streets of London was heard in Bow-street Police Court yesterday.

PEOPLE who frequent the West End will recall a Bohemian figure sitting before his easel outside St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with a row of his canvases—including portraits of his own grave, spade bearded face—hanging from the churchyard railings, and turning that little corner of the city into an unofficial art gallery.

REM: Thomas Reynolds, outside St-Martins-in-the-Field 1935

REM: Thomas Reynolds, outside St-Martins-in-the-Field 1940

“Studied in the Finest Schools”

He is no ordinary pavement artist—though he will not refuse the smallest copper tribute. His skillful brush, which has earned hundreds in more prosperous times produces serious portraits, not still-life studies of salmon.

“I am well known to the general public as Rem,” he told Mr. Fry, the magistrate. “I have studied in the finest schools in Europe.” But his open-air exhibition may be seen no more. After ten years as one of the minor curiosities of London. Rem has been “moved on” by the police. .

An officer with no sympathy for art explained that the crowds who collected round him caused an obstruction. He also hinted that there had been complaints from the ecclesiastical authorities about the pictures on the railings.

Rem, a dignified figure in the dock, denied both charges.

“The Rev. Dick Sheppard has no objection to my working there,” he declared. “The pavement is 47ft. wide—if a regiment of soldiers passed there would still be plenty of room for people to look at my work. But they were not interested in art on that night, and I fail to see where the obstruction comes in.”

“You haven’t any right to use the pavement as your studio,” pointed out Mr. Fry.

REM: Thomas Reynolds, outside St-Martins-in-the-Field 1940 (Original Press Photo)

REM: Thomas Reynolds, outside St-Martins-in-the-Field 1940 (Original Press Photo)

Then Gaoler Stillwell, who had ushered Rem into the dock, spoke up unexpectedly as a champion of art. “He has been there ever since I have been in the West End,” he told the magistrate. “He ‘ is a wonderful artist, sir!”

Mr. Fry was not to be drawn into a critical discussion. “You mustn’t do this,” he repeated. “If every artist painted on the foot-way something would have to be done about it!”

Rem nervously fingered his spotted bow tie. “If I stayed in a back room in Chelsea I should never get any commissions,” he pleaded. “I should die of starvation, ”

“Besides,” he added—and a note of regret crept into his voice—”the crowds were not looking at me. Only a few people understand my work—I am a classic portrait painter.”

Once more Mr. Fry declined to be lured into the perilous realm of artistic controversy. His attention remained resolutely fixed on the more mundane theme of obstruction. “Ten shillings.” he murmured regretfully.

The “master” whose enthusiasm and enterprise had landed him in the clutches of the law silently departed.

It remains to be seen whether or not his work will continue to decorate St. Martin-in-the-Fields in gallant rivalry of the National Gallery opposite. . .

Published in The Daily Mirror newspaper: Tuesday 14th May 1935 (page 23)

Written by Beau Street

A champion of pavement-art

REM: Thomas Reynolds, outside The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square 1929 (Original Press Photo)

REM: Thomas Reynolds, outside The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square 1925 (Original Press Photo)

REM started as a chalking pavement artist outside the National Gallery, London. In later life he became a “board-man” and presented portraits on the railings of St-Martins-in-the-Field Church. He was even the subject of a British Pathé Newsreel Film & BBC Radio Broadcast.

He was the only pavement artist to be included in a Touristic Guide of London’s MUST-SEE attractions. When he was “brought to book” by the Bow Street Police Courts, his case made the national newspapers. You can read more about REM on the following link! Ruined by War (1935)

Researched by Philip Battle

Visit my Artists of The Paving Stone page on Facebook!



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Boy Street Artist who caricatures MP’s to gain pence for sweets!

This article appeared on page 8 of The Daily Mirror newspaper 1914.

Chelsea’s youthful pavement artist Master Harold Tripp, aged 10, has utilised his talent for drawing as a means of adding to his pocket money, and has become a pavement artist in his spare time. A portion of his “takings” is spent in sweets, which he always shares with his six little brothers and sisters.

One of Harold’s pavement “works” in the making

One of Harold’s pavement “works” in the making

Chelsea has just produced the business artist.

In order to obtain money for sweets and other youthful necessities, Harold Tripp, a bright little boy of ten, who lives at Ulverdale Road/King’s Road, Chelsea, has begun work as a pavement artist; and is earning many pennies a day at his profession.

Schoolboy HAROLD TRIPP after purchasing sweets

Schoolboy HAROLD TRIPP after purchasing sweets

The Daily Mirror yesterday found the boy at one of his “pitches” in Chelsea surrounded by a large, crowd of admirers. He was on his hands and knees on the pavement carefully drawing in white chalks the figure of a lancer on a charger galloping along full speed.

When he had finished the soldier he drew some “portraits.”

Schoolboy Screever HAROLD TRIPP surrounded by admiring school friends

Schoolboy Screever HAROLD TRIPP surrounded by admiring school friends

“People like to see something up-to-date,” he said, as he executed two extraordinary caricatures of Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Bonar Law.

Then, when Harold had finished his drawings he sat by the railings, took off his cap and waited with a serene smile for a flow of coins. “I love drawing soldiers and pictures of people,” he confessed, “and I thought I would try and make some money by being a pavement artist. Already people have been very kind to me, and I have earned enough to buy sweets for myself and all my friends.

“I see pictures of well-known people in the newspapers, and then I draw my caricatures. Mr. Bonar Law is very easy to draw. I also like drawing Mr. Lloyd George.”

Schoolboy Screever Harold, copying one of Mr Haselden’s cartoons

Schoolboy Screever Harold, copying one of Mr Haselden’s cartoons

William Kerridge Haselden (1872-1953) was a self-taught cartoonist who worked for the Daily Mirror & Punch Magazine.

I don’t know whatever happened to little Harold, but I did find out that his father was Philip Tripp, whose profession was listed in the 1911 census as “Hairdresser” The family where living in Lambeth, London in 1911, but they had originally come from Portsmouth.

You can read more about child pavement artists in my related blogs!

Published in THE DAILY MIRROR newspaper, on Saturday 25th April 1914

Researched by Philip Battle

Visit my Artists of The Paving Stone page on Facebook!

All My Own Work: The Book! (2014)


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Crowd-funding NOW!

Since I started this blog, people have often suggested that I should turn it into a book, and that the stories here should be available to a wider audience, not everybody has the internet, and not everybody is interested in reading on-line blogs.

So now I’ve taken that first step towards publishing on the printed page. These stories, many rewritten, un-published and re-edited have become a book.

ALL MY OWN WORK: a history of pavement art

The FIRST book of its kind to relate the history of pavement art; from its origins in pre-history to the Victorians, Edwardians and the present day

ALL MY OWN WORK cover art

ALL MY OWN WORK cover art

I’ve sub-titled it “A history of Pavement Art” because that’s all it can be. It’s not a definitive account, but rather a start (THE FIRST) that touches on aspects of a forgotten world. To do justice to the entire history of pavement art would take three or four volumes! (Something for the future perhaps)

Also, the personal stories of individual artists plucked from historical obscurity and told here for the very first time; like Alice G Colman (1874-1934), Britain’s first lady pavement artist. Liverpool’s own child pavement artist James William Carling (1857-1887) with the personal stories of many others, and the social context in which they lived

Bringing the history right up to date with a description of modern day pavement art; festivals, events and the popularisation of the art-form across the globe, with examples of 3D anamorphic art, and other modern trends.


All My Own Work-The book! from Philip Battle on Vimeo.

I’m looking to raise £8000 to pay for the production of the initial limited edition book. This will consist of 1000 hardback copies.  The book will measure approx. 27cm by 19cm and contain approximately 200 pages.

I have written around 33,000 words and have well over 100 colour and B/W photographs I’d like to include (subject to editing)

How can you help?


Donate any amount, or use the rewards to pledge for advanced book sales….remember that no money is taken until / unless I meet my minimum target of £4000.

Or why not download the QR sign below, print off and display it at your workplace!



Or download the E-Flyer and distribute it on your social network!

ALL MY OWN WORK-crowd-funding eFlyer!

ALL MY OWN WORK-crowd-funding eFlyer!

Please help me reach my crowd-funding goal

Many thanks for your time

Philip Battle



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Chalking for Charity

Today, charity chalk pavement art events are very popular, especially in the United States; chalk sidewalk festivals are raising money for a myriad of good causes, from providing aid to Vietnam veterans to supporting religious institutions. But as the old saying goes “there is nothing new under the sun” as this feature from the Daily Express, 1922, perfectly illustrates.

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

“Sketching on paving stones is much more difficult than working on canvas.”

That was the verdict of two pretty girl art students, who staked a “claim” at Hyde Park Corner early yesterday morning, and became pavement artists for the day, for the benefit of St. George’s Dispensary (children’s hospital), Pocock Street, Blackfriars

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

“We find this work extremely difficult and tiring,” said one of them. “We practised for a while in the backyard before taking up our pitch here.”

Their gallery lacked nothing in the way of colour. The “exhibits” included a boat with yellow sails; two children, in gay-coloured pinafores, playing with a ball of even brighter hues, and a mystery picture. This showed an elderly and somewhat plain woman, in a long robe, and a large black sombrero, gazing from a basement window. Was she looking for her Romeo?

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

Considerably more than £1 (£50 in today’s value) had by the afternoon, found its way into the young artists “hat.”

Published in the Daily Express newspaper, England (Thursday 1st June 1922)

Researched by Philip Battle

Visit my Artists of The Paving Stone page on Facebook!


Percy Pickle the Pavement Artist (1914)


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Fun on the Kerbstone

Perhaps the most famous and beloved of all the screevers; yet today, Percy Pickle the pavement artist has largely been forgotten.

Merry and Bright banner heading 4th July 1914

Merry and Bright banner heading 4th July 1914

Percy was the very first EVER weekly comic book pavement artist character. He first saw the light of day in the Amalgamated Press comic story paper MERRY & BRIGHT. Published every Thursday and costing half-a-penny (which was considered quite expensive back then) It was a mixture of written children’s stories & comic strip spreads with jokes. The first issue was published by the Amalgamated Press on the 22nd October 1910 and continued every week until 1935.

Here’s one of Percy’s Kerbstone adventures from 1914

Percy Pickle cartoon strip 1914

Percy Pickle cartoon strip 4th July 1914

For 25 years Percy was known by every school boy and girl throughout the land for his “Kerbstone antics” a loveable rogue, he was a master at drawing himself out of mischief and getting his own back on the law. Merry & Bright was part of The Amalgamated Press Ltd of London, and as such Percy’s antics were also published in Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Tis without doubt; Percy Pickle was a pavement artist of international renown!

Written and researched by Philip Battle

Visit my Artists of The Paving Stone page on Facebook!



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A Poppins of a find!

In her 1934 book MARY POPPINS, Pamela L Travers first described her character Bert, as a Match-Man, who had two professions.

He not only sold matches like any ordinary match-man, but he drew pavement pictures as well. He did these things according to the weather. If it was wet, he sold matches. If it was fine, he was on his knees all day, making pictures in coloured chalks on the pavement.

The fictional BERT THE SCREEVER played by Dick Van Dyke 1964

The fictional BERT THE SCREEVER played by Dick Van Dyke 1964

In the Disney film, Bert becomes a one-man-band busker, a chimney sweep and a pavement artist all rolled into one! Of course, Walt Disney did take liberties when it came to interpreting the written words of Pamela L Travers.

Bert was portrayed by Dick Van Dyke; a jack-of-all-trades with a Cockney accent. He never stays with one trade too long, and adapts to the current conditions he finds himself in.

The big question is, was the fictional character of Bert the pavement artist, based on a real person and will we ever know?

 Pamela L Travers was born in Australia, and emigrated to London, England in 1924.

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914 (Published by Samuels Ltd)

In the 1920’s, London was awash with pavement artists; mainly disabled ex-servicemen from the Great War, trying to scrape together a daily living. Bert was a popular name (short for Robert) and there can be no doubt that Pamela Travers came into close contact with the pavement artists on the London Embankment.

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914 (publisher unknown)

In 1914, photographer Fred Judge took a series of night photographs on the Thames Embankment. These where then made into postcards; they featured a NIGHT SCREEVER; pavement artist, at different exposures and angles, who also appears to be photographed at different times on different nights.

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914

DIFFERENT ANGLE: Original Real Photo Postcard 1914 (publisher unknown)

Although only one of these photographs is attributed to Fred Judge, you could assume that most of them were taken by him, although this can’t be certain. Whatever the case, this pavement artist was obviously a popular muse to be photographed.

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914

DIFFERENT NIGHT: Original Real Photo Postcard 1914 (published by Judges Ltd)

So how do these postcards relate to BERT?

Well, by sheer coincidence & GOOD LUCK, I discovered that the artist in the photographs is indeed named BERT; the one above was posted in London on the 11th July 1914.

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914

Original Real Photo Postcard-posted 11th July 1914 (Bert’s message)

The postcard was written in pencil, and addressed to Mr Fred Bruce, 44 Victoria Road, Bedminster, Bristol

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914

Original Real Photo Postcard 1914 (Bert’s message)

The message reads “Dear Fred, I have taken a stand on the embankment, doing art. My photo is on the other side; signed BERT.”

So there we have it, a message through time and space. Bert was indeed a REAL pavement artist, perhaps even the same Bert that Pamela Travers wrote about in Mary Poppins? (who can tell)

I’d love to find out more about Bert, and hopefully tell his story here…..perhaps someday I will discover the real Mary Poppins eh!


Written & Researched by Philip Battle



Raymond Moretti (1968)


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The pavement painter?

What’s the connection between Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, pavement art and the French Riviera?

Raymond Moretti; a painter of international fame has abandoned his luxurious studio to paint on the pavements of Juan-Les-Pins, posing as some beatnik art student looking for loose change.

I know nothing more about this photo, or if Raymond Moretti, earnestly took up the role of pavement artist; but I suspect this was staged for a scene in the film “Le Temps Fou” (Crazy Time) directed by Marcel Camus on the French Riviera.

Raymond Moretti-Original press photo:  Juan-Les-Pins, South of France (1968)

Raymond Moretti-Original press photo: Juan-Les-Pins, South of France (1968)

Surrounded by beatniks and hippies, Raymond Moretti made ​​a drawing on the pavements of Juan-Les-Pins, South of France.

Raymond Moretti was born to Italian parents of modest origins; his father was an anarchist carpenter, and his mother a maid, who fled the Fascists of Mussolini’s Italy.

Raymond Moretti-Original press photo (close-up. 14th Sept. 1968) Keystone Press Agency.

Raymond Moretti-Original press photo (14th Sept. 1968) Keystone Press Agency.

In 1962, he worked with Jean Cocteau; and painted many watercolours and oils on the theme of “The Age of Aquarius.” In 1963 he met Pablo Picasso, which gave birth to a great friendship between the young and the old master artists. Picasso followed Moretti along his career and helped him out in difficult times.

Jazz was an important part of the artist’s life, and Moretti painted his first important work to the sound of Count Basie playing on a hand-wound phonograph. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk all posed for him. The 1960s saw the publication of Moretti Verve, a series of 12 LPs recorded by the greatest names of Jazz, the covers illustrated by the painter. These covers are now collector’s items. Moretti adapted the abstract art he used so effectively for jazz illustrations in his art for the Haggadah.

Raymond MORETTI contemporary Lithograph

Raymond MORETTI contemporary Lithograph

He uses colour and abstract design together with letters from the Hebrew alphabet to invoke the grandeur of the Exodus from Egypt and to even create the effect of sound in his art.

Raymond MORETTI contemporary Lithograph

Raymond MORETTI contemporary Lithograph

Born in Nice on the 23rd of July 1931, he died in Paris on the 2nd June 2005, aged 74.

Written and researched by Philip Battle



PUNCH MAGAZINE (1914-1922)


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Pavement Art as political metaphor

Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term “cartoon” in its modern sense as a humorous illustration. It became a British institution, but after the 1940s, when its circulation peaked, it went into a long decline, finally closing in 1992. It was revived in 1996, but closed again in 2002.

These are a selection of cartoons published by Punch between 1914 & 1922

punch cartoon 1914

Caption reads: “Pavement Artist (who has not yet recovered the nerve which he lost on hearing the attack upon the VELASQUEZ Venus). “PASS ALONG THEM COVERS, GEORGE- THE SUFFRAGETTES IS COMING”.

Published on the 22nd April 1914: Refers to the Lady Suffragettes attack on the painting known as the “Rokerby Venus.” 

On March 10, 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson walked into the National Gallery and attacked Velázquez’s canvas with a meat cleaver. Her action was provoked by the arrest of fellow suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst the previous day, although there had been earlier warnings of a planned suffragette attack on the collection. Richardson left seven slashes on the painting, particularly causing damage to the area between the figure’s shoulders. However, all were successfully repaired by the National Gallery’s chief restorer Helmut Ruhemann.

Punch 1916 10th May

caption: Unfortunate position of once popular Berlin Naval Battle artist, whose occupation has vanished through his having rashly sunk the entire British Fleet at an early stage of the war.

Published on the 10th May 1916: Comment on the progress of WWI

Punch 1916 12th july

caption: LITTLE LESSONS IN HUMILITY—The opulent caricaturist who never passes a pavement artist without reflecting that he himself might have been in a similar position if only the Kaiser had had no moustache.

Published on the 12th July 1916: Comment on WWI

Punch 1919 17th September

caption: The Artist. “I say, Guv’ner, would you mind standin’ on the cheese instead of the ‘Death O’ Nelson’?”

Published on the 17th September 1919: Social comment!

Punch 1920 July

caption: Native (to visitor, who is drawing a steamer for his daughter). “Those Futurist pictures may do all right in Brighton, my lad, but they’ll never go in Burley-on-Sea.”

Published in July 1920: comment on modern art!

Punch 1920 1st September

caption: MODERN BUSINESS METHODS—Patron. “Didn’t I give you something in High Street this morning?” Artist. “Yes, Mum. I’ve a branch there.”

Published on the 1st September 1920: Social comment!

punch 19th july 1922

caption: THE DIE-HARD SCREEVER—Lieut.-Colonel Archer-Shee.

Published on the 19th July 1922: Comment on British army officer and Conservative Party politician Martin Archer-Shee.


Written and researched by Philip Battle


Out as a “Scriever” (1894)


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The report of an undercover Victorian journalist

In the first place, perhaps it would be as well, before relating what befall me in that capacity, if I state for the benefit to the uninitiated what a “scriever” is.

He is what is known as a “pavement artist,” a “gutter cartoonist,” and an “artist in chalk”—in fact, he is the individual who draws in vivid crayons views by moonlight, wrecks at sea, iridescent mackerel, and very salt rashers of bacon on the flagstones of the London thoroughfares.

This description of nomadic artist is what is known as a “scriever.”

Amateurs, journalistic and otherwise, have made inroads in various walks of life, such as selling matches, singing songs, “busking,” driving cabs, and otherwise, the fashion having been set by the “amateur casual” many years since; but I venture to think that, until I did it, no one had ever invaded the secrets of the flagstone draughtsman.

Having made up my mind to become a “scriever” for the time being namely, a day—my first task was to settle my “pitch,” or stand. This was a somewhat difficult matter; for, while I did not aspire to too public a position, for fear my friends should be passing and recognize me, still I did not yearn after a situation where I should reign unseen—and possibly unappreciated, not to say unremunerated. The main thoroughfares, I found, all had their artists, the Hampstead, Bayswater, and Euston roads being closed, with many other desirable locations, to me as a consequence. At last, after a few days of walking, I fixed upon a position which, I thought, would suit my purpose admirably, and which, while hardly so public as to bring me in as many coppers as I might have desired, was yet sufficiently private to save me from my friends—and a man needs to be saved from those same at times.

Illustration from "London's Byways & Highways" 1902

Illustration from “London’s Byways & Highways” 1902

Having selected my pitch, which was in front of the garden railings of a second-rate West end square, the name of which, for obvious reasons, I must withhold, I trusted to the good offices of Robert the Policeman not to interfere with me, and habited in an old suit of clothes, which had been carefully patched, I, one Saturday morning, took up my position and proceeded to dust the canvas—I mean the stones.

I then laid out an old cap with which I had provided myself, and in which a varied assortment of pieces of chalk and crayon, of all colours, far more than any I was likely to call into requisition, were carelessly arranged, and at once proceeded to open my shop by drawing the pictures which were to attract my patrons. This I found a fairly easy, and not altogether an unpleasant, task, though I had some difficulty in deciding as to what subjects I should decorate the pavement with.

I had no wish to try my hand on the mouse nibbling a candle stuck in a ginger-beer bottle to the legend of “Bad times!” beneath; on the usual mackerel, or bacon, or portrait of the latest condemned murderer, with the legend that “Many can help one.” I eventually settled my subjects—which included three landscapes, a seascape, and a fancy ideal portrait, surrounded on the three sides with a bordering in the Greek key pattern. My work, which took me well on to twelve o’clock, finished, I put at one end “Pity the poor artist,” and at the other “I do this for a living,” placing myself and my cap near the former legend, and my box of tracks—I mean my cap of chalks—near the other, and then I anxiously awaited the inflow of coppers, and watched for the results and developments generally.

For the purpose of assisting my disguise I had allowed my whiskers and beard to grow for two or three weeks, and had also assumed a black long-haired wig, on the fashions affected by artists and violinists in old-world Bohemia, which I am pleased to say helped much to conceal my identity.

For the first two or three hours I had a fair number of visitors, though my remuneration for my labours had not exceeded ninepence, while the comments on my work had been varied, and not always complimentary. Thus one “horny-handed son of toil,” after intently surveying my drawings, expressed the opinion that “he had never seen a ship like that,” depicted in my seascape—which was probably true, though not in the sense he intended…..another remark I overheard was that “the poor bloke looks as though he was new to the game,” while sundry others suggested that I should get “my hair cut,” a suggestion which perhaps was not quite undeserved, although as the wig was only hired I was unable to carry it out.

The day wore on, and after I had been somewhat freely canvassed by the working men and women who passed my way on their way home at the end of the week’s toil, I began to get a few other visitors, such as those which were described by a crossing sweeper in my vicinity as “toft’s,” couples, married and otherwise, out for a stroll. The single couples were far more profitable to me than those who had entered the bonds of matrimony, the swain nearly always throwing me a copper with the air of possessing thousands a year, when probably his salary was a pound a week; so liberal is love before marriage.

My works, which I carefully dusted from time to time, were more or less freely criticised, for it must be admitted that the average pedestrian of the London streets is not at all backward in giving his opinion unasked not only of the pictures spread out on the pavement, but of the artist’s appearance, the remarks being outspoken, not to say personal; one gentleman, who had been imbibing at the statue of Bacchus, offering to “toss me for two shaves!”

By the time the shades of night had fallen I had taken, all told, one shilling and sevenpence halfpenny, and I was anxious to see what my evening visitors would be like, I proceeded to illuminate my premises, for which purpose I had provided myself with three candles. The wind unfortunately played some rude pranks with my candles, with the result that my pictures were seen under quivering and weird effects, and I found that my illuminations did not bring me much in the way of custom, as very few wayfarers stopped. I, however, kept at my “pitch” till half-past ten o’clock, when having taken another sevenpence-halfpenny, making two shillings and threepence for some thirteen hours, not a halfpenny of which had I received during the last hour and a half. I shut up my establishment by blowing out the lights and wiping out the pictures, and packing up my crayons and candles I took my way homeward.

On my way I “chummed in” with another artist of the pavement, and over a friendly pint I handed him my stock in trade, telling him I had retired therefrom as there was no money in it. I was told by my newly found professional companion that, save at holiday times, the takings seldom reached more than two shillings a day, except on Saturdays and in very busy thoroughfares, and in the middle of the week frequently came as low as sixpence.

Hence I can deduce that I had done very well indeed.

Published in The Pall Mall Gazette (Wednesday 5th December 1894)

Researched & transcribed by Philip Battle




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Portrait of the Day

It was the year of the Queen’s Coronation, and the PICTURE POST published a “Special Coronation Souvenir” of their popular magazine. Published on the 6th June and costing 1 shilling, (the normal cost was 4d) this was set to become a collector’s edition.

For the first time a pavement artist was featured as “Portrait of the Day”

Rembrandt Lee 1953

Portrait of the Day: PICTURE POST; June 1953

Joseph Lee will be up all night on Coronation Eve—he expects business to be good. For 37 years this artist has covered his stretch of pavement, at the top end of Knightsbridge, with royal portraits and copies of the Old Masters. He was there at the Coronation of George VI. And he remembers the days before 1937 when the late King was Duke of York; when he lived “just up the road” at 145 Piccadilly—and would bring the two Princesses along to drop a few coins into his hat.

pavement artist Joseph Lee in Knightsbridge London. PICTURE POST photo: 1953

pavement artist Joseph Lee. Original PICTURE POST photo: 1953

Joseph Lee was known as “Rembrandt Lee.” He wore a large, soft beret, which he spread on the pavement for contributions from tourists. In his beret, he bore a striking resemblance to the painter, Rembrandt van Rijn. In the 1950s he was invited to Amsterdam, where he was feted as talented curiosity.

Screever Cartoon. Published in the PICTURE POST; April 1953

Screever Cartoon. Published in the PICTURE POST; April 1953

The Picture Post was a prominent photo-journalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. It was considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,700,000 copies a week after only two months. It has been called the Life magazine of the United Kingdom.

If you are related to, or have any more information on Joseph Lee, I’d love to hear from you.

Researched and written by Philip Battle


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