Oil on canvas
12 x 10.5 inches
In this painting of about 1850 a distraught young woman with unkempt hair and a once clean dress has apparently reached the end of a hard road amongst the complex of arches by the river under the Adelphi buildings near St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. There is no idealism here; rather, Dickensian drama and social realism. `Above the arches that supported their mansions dwelt the great and the good, but underneath lurked the homeless and the desperate. Balefully lit, this unfortunate girl holds her crucifix, a vestige of hope, as she seems to dissolve into the gloomy miasma of the Thames. This tragic theme was given romantic emphasis by the late poems of Thomas Hood concerning the London poor: The Song of the Shirt and The Bridge of Sighs.