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St James's Fair, Bristol

Photo credit: Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

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St James's Fair had taken place since the thirteenth century but by the 1820s it was notorious for the crime and general debauchery it attracted. Samuel Colman, a strict Nonconformist, preaches a very visual sermon contrasting virtue with vice. The house on the left compares middle class domestic contentment with the run-down brothel on the right. Between, there are references to slavery, lost virginity, the transience of beauty, the evils of gambling, theft and deception. Colman believes only Christianity's moral code can save these people.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery



St James's Fair, Bristol




oil on panel


H 87.6 x W 133.9 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bequeathed by J. Anthony Bird, 1915

Work type



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Normally on display at

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Queens Road, Bristol, Bristol BS8 1RL England

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