Illustrations of fictional characters who were orphaned, adopted, fostered or found.

Inspired by Lemn Sissay's 2014 commission for the museum, Superman was a Foundling, this exhibition considers how illustrators have portrayed alternative childhoods. Dating between the 18th century and the present day, the works on display have been drawn from folklore, fiction and other areas of popular culture.

Recognisable characters include James from Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach who was orphaned as a young boy, Hetty from Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather who lived at the Foundling Hospital, and Rapunzel, whose parents gave her up as a child.

Among the artists featured are Quentin Blake, George Cruikshank, David Hockney, Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), Arthur Rackham, Thomas Rowlandson, Nick Sharratt and Stref.

The Foundling Museum

40 Brunswick Square, London, Greater London, WC1N 1AZ

020 7841 3600


Opening times

Tue – Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun, 11am – 5pm

Free entry with National Art Pass

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