Joseph Bouet in the Durham Criminal Court (c.1825-1856): Picturing Nineteenth Century Courtroom Actors. Part 2: Three Case Studies

Helen Rutherford*, Clare Sandford-Couch

*Corresponding author for this work

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Between c.1825–1856, a French-born artist, Joseph Bouet, made approximately sixty pencil sketches in the criminal courtroom at Durham, of legal actors including judges, lawyers, and defendants. Our research is the first detailed analysis of these images by legal scholars. It is presented in two parts, which can be read as separate and independent pieces, but each gain from being read in conjunction with the other. In Part 1 of this series of two articles we discussed potential theoretical approaches to analysis of the images and their importance to socio-legal and legal historical scholarship (cross ref). In this Part 2, we explore Bouet’s courtroom sketches of legal actors as the rare and unusual starting point for a microhistorical analysis examining individual interaction(s) with the criminal justice process in the mid-nineteenth century. This article demonstrates that with detailed research these previously overlooked images can offer a unique window into aspects of nineteenth century legal history, with much to tell us about legal institutions, the people who worked within them and the ‘objects/subjects’ of the law. This study makes an important contribution to the growing body of scholarship on the interface between history, law and the visual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-280
Number of pages27
JournalLaw and Humanities
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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