Band Box Seller

Band Box Seller - Body

About the object

Back of a man walking with a rod over his left shoulder with various shapes of hat boxes dangling from the rod.

This work by Paul Sandby was created with multiple drawing mediums, including ink, graphite, and watercolor. If you look closely, you can see hints of yellow and red watercolor on the clothing of the man. It is interesting to think about why Sandby chose to mix artistic mediums instead of using just one. Sandby drew a man walking into the distance, his hips swaying under the weight of a rod with hanging boxes. The rectangular, circular, and triangular boxes are hat boxes showcasing the different sizes and shapes of this article of clothing. Sandby was a well-known watercolor artist who created and published sets of his drawings. One of these sets was titled London Cries, and it showcased merchants in the streets of London. Band Box Seller was not part of the London Cries series, but it may have been part of another series of figure drawings.

Helpful Terms

Drawing – It is a term used to describe a two-dimensional artwork in which a tool is used to make an image on a surface, such as a sheet of paper. These lines can be made with a pencil or pen, or non-linear or tonal marks made with other implements, such as brushes.

Ink – (brush) Ink that has been brushed on allows an artist to cover broader areas of the sheet in fewer strokes.

Watercolor – (brush) There are two types of watercolors: Transparent Watercolor and Opaque Watercolor. Transparent Watercolor is a water-soluble paint; known for its transparent properties, it is incredibly versatile in its ability to create a variety of effects by being layered and pooled. Opaque Watercolor is a watercolor with a “body” (white filler) added to it to make it rich and dark; it is not transparent and creates a look like oil paint. View a watercolor set in The Huntington’s collection from circa 1781:

Graphite – (pencil) A type of carbon; graphite pencils allow artists to make hard or soft marks, thick or think or thin lines, and offer a range of values from light to dark.

More to Explore...


Write a story about this seller and his journey. Where is his final destination? Who ordered these hats? Why are there so many hats?

Level Up

This drawing shows a variety of hat box shapes and sizes. Pick one and design what you think the hat inside looks like.

Question Corner

  • Why do you think Sandby chose to draw the man’s back instead of showing his face
  • Sandby added some yellow and red watercolor traces. Why do you think he didn’t add more color?