Stands of seated children in identical uniforms line the Strand in London in this early 18th-century view, as a procession of noblemen in ornate, pastel coloured carriages passes by. This print records the celebrations held on 7th July 1713 to mark the Peace of Utrecht. Peace had been restored after a string of victories over the French, led by the Duke of Marlborough. A series of individual peace treaties were signed by several European states in March and April 1713, ending the violence. The day of celebrations was a national event and stands were erected along the Strand to seat charity children. These were the children who attended Blue Coat Schools (so-called because of the colour of the uniform), which provided a basic education for the poor. The children illustrated here have removed their caps as a mark of respect to the procession passing by, made up of members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The children sang together, as a choir, from the stands and so were as much a spectacle for the dignitaries in the procession, as the procession itself was for them. The procession ended at St Paul’s Cathedral, George Frideric Handel’s 'Utrecht te Deum', written especially for the occasion, was performed.
George Vertue was born in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. His parents served in the court of James II and his father may have later become a tailor. He was first apprenticed to a silver engraver and later to Flemish engraver Michael Vandergucht. His early work includes plates after Kneller, whose academy he attended from 1711. Vertue served as official engraver to the Society of Antiquaries (1717-56). In the 1720s he concentrated on portrait frontispieces, producing over 120 in total. From 1727 he was engraver to Oxford University. Vertue was also a publisher and ran a print shop near Drury Lane. In 1712 he began gathering information for a publication on the history of art in Britain, which remained unfinished at his death.
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