The London Quaker

The London Quaker (1688) is an engraving of a young Quaker woman.  A penciled note on the back identifies her as “Rachael of Covent Garden”.  A dreamy look on her face, she stands, hands clasped at her waist, dressed modestly, a “Quaker hood” on her head, a cloak over her left arm.  Frills decorate her sleeves, and bows ornament her shoes.  (Her costume predates the Quietist plainness that was adopted by Friends in the 18th century).  The engraving is Plate 71 in The Cryes of the City of London Drawne after the Life. Measuring about ten inches high by six inches wide, it is printed on vellum paperThe engraving was etched by John Savage; the painting upon which it is based was madeby Marcellus Laroon the Elder.

“Rachael of Covent Garden” was very likely a Friend from Westminster Meeting, the nearest Meeting to Covent Garden.  Quakers had been worshipping there since 1655, with the first Meetinghouse rented in 1666.  Gutted by bombs during the Blitz in World War Two, the current Meetinghouse was rebuilt in 1956.

The London Quaker is a charming picture.  It is also probably a faithful depiction of this Friend.  Laroon was known for his accuracy in portraits, and Savage reflected this.  Interestingly, Laroon’s style was influenced by Egbert van Heemskerk, the artist who painted the earliest pictures of Meetings for Worship.

Gary Sandman

August 2023

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