The coronation of George VI on 12 May 1937 was one of the biggest media events of the interwar period. While other photographers focused on the new King, his family and the ceremonial splendour of the day, Henri Cartier-Bresson turned his lens on the crowds that gathered in the streets of London to watch the pageantry.
In a witty reversal of the expected order of proceedings, he shows us ordinary people of all ages and walks of life, some climbing on monuments or each other’s shoulders, others straining to get a better view with cardboard periscopes and mirrors on sticks. A few even slump on the ground, the festivities having proved too much. Presented alongside contemporary news clippings from around the world, these remarkable images reflect Cartier-Bresson’s unmistakeable photographic eye and capture the British public at a unique historical moment.