Category: Stephen Basdeo

Painting a Pandemic: Michiel Sweerts’s “Plague in Ancient City” (1652) | Stephen Basdeo

Michiel Sweerts (1618–64) was a Flemish painter who specialised in genre paintings, portraits, and allegorical paintings. He greater part of the 1640s in Rome, during which time there was an outbreak of plague in the city which inspired him to paint this scene.

The Rise of Democracy: The Passage of the Reform Act (1867) | Stephen Basdeo

The Reform League organised several rallies. At one of the Reform League’s major rallies, held in Trafalgar Square and attended by old-school militant radicals, the speakers began calling on working men to organise a general strike. Another ‘monster meeting’ held in May 1867 was so large that, despite being banned by the government, the police did not dare to intervene. The prospect of violence and armed conflict was rearing its head and it was all beginning to feel like 1848 again.