The infant orphan election was an unpleasant example of Victorian charity, held at the London Tavern in Bishopsgate Street.

Children whose parents had once been in more prosperous circumstances were put up for election in order to gain entrance into a variety of charitable institutions. As the painting illustrates, elegant 18th century rooms at the tavern were hung with posters and election placards, encouraging those present to vote for particular children. Their success or otherwise was not ultimately dependent on their merits, however, but rather on the amount of money and votes raised on their behalf. This painting is an elaborate preparatory sketch for another painting of the same name and an interesting record of the London Tavern, well known for hosting charity occasions and political events, and particularly famous for its excellent food and wines.

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