The trial illustrated in this work is Regina v Castro, known as the Tichborne trial, a notorious trial of the 1870s which captivated the British public, dominated the press for months and made celebrities of the participants. It began after a man living in Wagga Wagga, Australia, claimed to be the missing and presumed dead aristocrat Roger Tichborne. The man was known as the Claimant throughout the trial, which lasted for 188 days, from 23 April 1873 to 28 February 1874, and was at the time the longest running in history.
This image is based on an illustration first published in ‘The Graphic’ in June 1873, drawn by French artist Godefroy Durand. Durand had settled in London in 1870, joining the permanent staff of ‘The Graphic’ that year.
The painting largely reproduces Durand’s illustration, except that the figures to the lower right have been replaced by supporters of the Claimant. The portraits of the additional figures seem to have been added using photographs. Other figures in the scene also appear to have had their features revised using contemporary photographs of the individuals concerned. The painting was commissioned for a Wapping pub, which featured in the trial, known as the Globe Tavern or public house.
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