In 1937, a young Henri Cartier-Bresson travelled to London to document the coronation of King George VI for French news magazine Regards. The set of photographs, which captured adoring citizens in various candid scenes (and noticeably omitted any record of the actual monarch himself), was significant not just because it was an important record of London life and its people, but also because it was the first of his photojournalist works to be published.
The Photographs come from the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection, and over two thirds of the 1400-strong image library, created over 20 years, has been donated to the Tate. Curators Helen Delaney and Simon Baker have chosen works by celebrated names such as Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Davidson and Bill Brandt, together with snapshots of the city by lesser known photographers.
Varied and contrasting, there are glimpses of life for the affluent upper and middle classes, as well as shots highlighting the plight of the urban poor, such as Bill Brandt’s arresting ‘Bethnal Green Housewife’, taken in 1937, capturing a scene from an east London doorstep.