During his career, James Kirby painted a series of works that centre on the local characters of Bishop’s Stortford going about their daily toils. The present painting depicts Charles J. Woodford, the butcher of Dane Street, defiantly posed behind his counter, on which sits a noticeably small cut of meat. Painted in 1944, at the height of nationwide rationing, the painting epitomises Britain’s fortitude and resilience in the face of adversity, and gained considerable attention when it was used in a wartime calendar published by Raphael Tuck alongside a rhyme on rationing.
Interestingly weekly meat rations in WWII could only have a maximum value of one shilling two pence as depicted in the present work.
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