The horse fair, Foregate Street, Chester signed 'Louise Rayner' (lower right) watercolour and bodycolour 46 x 73cm (18 1/8 x 28 3/4in).
The viewpoint in this picture is at the junction of Love Street with Foregate Street in front of 'Wilkinsons'. The watercolour depicts one of Chester's busiest streets which had become a major centre for shopkeepers during the 19th century. The half timbered building on the left is 70 Foregate Street 'Lee Louise', with the first floor extending over the pavement which still stands, but has been extensively restored. Most of the buildings described on the left of the picture have been lost to 20th century redevelopments - the most prominent of these being the present day Primark store and Marks and Spencers.
The horse fair in Foregate Street was the last remaining of Chester's traditional fairs held in a street. Pressure from shopkeepers had forced livestock fairs off the streets and into specialised markets, and the development of wholesalers and retailers through the 19th century had made the cloth fair obsolete.
Horse fairs continued in Foregate Street until about 1880 when it ceased due to pressure from the street's retailers, for whom it was highly disruptive for trade and the tram drivers for whom the presence of numerous horses blocked the lines of the newly laid horse drawn trams.
Chester also held a cheese fair which sold the local Cheshire cheese. This fair was in decline in the 1870s-90s, but continued after 1900 when it alternated annually with the Whitchurch cheese fair.
In this picture Louise Rayner has used a range of effects to create a convincing streetscape. The artist has broadened and foreshortened Foregate Street so that the Eastgate retains its impact at the end of the view. The tower of St Peter's Church and spire of The Guildhall can be glimpsed in the distance.