… gave life to the foreground in engravings from, say, 1750 to 1830 – and suggest a title for a book of light social history. They come into nursery rhyme illustrations as well.
The Foundling Hospital, Bloomsbury in a print published in January 1753 or earlier:
St James’s Square, 1752 (Chatham House, Duke of York Street and St James’s, Piccadilly in background; boy and hoop centre foreground; possibly clearer colour version here):
A painting of the 1825 Decembrist revolt in the Senate Square, St Petersburg by Vasily Timm has the running boy, but in these circumstances no dogs or hoops (he is similar to a running figure on a print of Bow Church and Cheapside in 1750, Getty images):
This of the Tower of London, c 1810, has a hoop and ambling boy, but no dog.
One of the new lodges, Hyde Park, 1828, with hoop and dogs; dandies lounge at the rails:
St Giles-in-the-Fields, c 1820 (the figure may not be a boy, but we have seen him in the Foundling Hospital, Bow Church and Russian images):
It seems that boys did no more than roll the hoop.