Victorian Horses & Carriages

Image of Victorian Horse & Carriages Sketch: cover

Image of Victorian Horse & Carriages Sketch: Ice Cart

Image of Victorian Horse & Carriages Sketch: Brewer's DrayImage of Victorian Horse & Carriages Sketch: Spread

A friend of ours gave us this wee book as a wedding gift and it has been irresistibly propped up on our bookshelf for quick access ever since. The charming pictures were sketched and painted by a certain Mr William Francis Freelove in the late 1800’s. Freelove was a resident of Kingston upon Thames just outside London. As an astute observer of his native surroundings he began to record and sketch the plethora of carts that would pass his home every day.

By 1873, Freelove had painted over 70 neat little watercolours of horsedrawn vehicles. However, somewhere along the lines his painting practice was overtaken – possibly by the burgeoning responsibility of his family duties in taking care of his six children. His last painting was laid to rest, tucked away in the attic of their old house. It was not until one hundred years later that his enchanting collection was uncovered amongst some old jumble and collated together into a book for print.

The personality of each cart is effortlessly relayed through his playful style. The brewer’s on their dray hang their heads comically as though woozy from their own cargo. I feel like there is a touch of Lowry in the anthropological nature of the pictures.  That said, I think these innocuous paintings are truly special because they only ever existed as a personal documentary. Freelove probably never imagined that his works would be published together as a collection like this. But I’m glad they were and I can highly recommend grabbing a copy of this charming book if you can.

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