London Topography

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John Boydell

A View of Governour Pitts House at Twickenham.

London, J. Boydell 1753

Copper engraving

Old but not publisherís hand-colouring



A fine, panoramic view of Orleans House, Twickenham, seen from across the Thames. In the foreground barges and rowing boats ply up and down the river, cattle graze on the foreshore, and on the left is Twickenham church. The house, with its famous Octagon (seen here on the left of the river frontage), was built in 1710 for James Johnston (1643-1737) by John James, one of Wrenís chief assistants. (James would go on to rebuild Twickenham Parish Church in 1713). The house replaced the former house on that site which Johnston had first obtained on a lease in 1702. The Octagon was added in 1720 to receive Caroline of Anspach, wife of the future King George II, with whom Johnstone was a favourite. After Johnstoneís death in May 1737 aged 82, the property was purchased by George Morton Pitt (d. 1756), Governor of Madras, and M.P. for Pontefract in Yorkshire. In 1814 the house was leased by Louis Phillippe Duc díOrleans. He came to England during the "Hundred Days", the period leading up to Napoleonís defeat at Waterloo in June 1815, and had left again by 1818. The house is now an art gallery in the possession of Twickenham Council.






Thomas Bowles.

The Chinese House, the Rotunda, & the Company in Masquerade in Ranelagh Gardens. 

London, Thos. Bowles 1751. Copper engraving. 350x470mm. laid onto card. 

Price: £220

A fine, large view of the canal at Ranelagh, with musicians playing in the chinese pavilion (situated in the centre of the canal), and the immense Rotunda in the background. Fancifully dressed couples stroll in the wooded avenues on either side. Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens, Chelsea, were laid out in 1742. The Rotunda, built by William Jones, a surveyor for the East India Company, was 150 feet in diameter and heated by an enormous four sided fireplace in the centre, which also formed part of the support for the roof. Around the walls were booths for eating and drinking, and an orchestra in which Mozart once played. The Rotunda was used until 1803, by which time it had long been out of fashion, and demolished two years later. The site is now part of Chelsea Hospital gardens. 



Anon (artist's signature illegible).

A View of the Canal, Chinese Building, Rotunde in Ranelagh Gardens, with Masquarade &c. 

(London, c. 1760). Copper engraving. Original hand-colouring. 260x435mm. Slight overall spotting and browning. Small repaired hole outside the image, top left on the plate mark.

Price: £120

A naively executed view of the floating chinese pavillion, with the Rotunda in the background, in Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens, Chelsea, west London, enlivened with fashionable patrons in exotic fancy dress. Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens were laid out in 1742. The Rotunda, built by William Jones, a surveyor for the East India Company, was 150 feet in diameter and heated by an enormous four sided fireplace in the centre which also formed part of the support for the roof. Around the walls were booths for eating and drinking, and an orchestra in which Mozart once played. The extensive gardens were laid out in a series of walks and groves, dimly lit at night with chinese lanterns, providing ideal trysting places for lovers. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the gardens had become a resort for less fashionable sections of society and  the haunt of thieves and pickpockets. In 1803 the Rotunda was demolished and the gardens finally closed two years later. The site is now part of Chelsea Hospital gardens. 




Vue de la Place de Grosvenor ŗ Londres. 

Paris, Daument c. 1766. Copper engraving. Original hand-colouring. 270x400mm. 

Price: £150 

A vue d'optique with the title also above the image in mirror writing. An extremely rare, colourful view of Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London. The centrepiece of the 100 acre Grosvenor Estate, it was built between 1725-31, laid out with large handsomely equipped houses, and has always attracted residents of the highest social status. Much of the Square was rebuilt in the 1920ís by the second Duke of Westminster and only two of the original houses now survive. 


Sutton Nicholls.

Marlborough House, In St. Jamesís Park. 

London, John Bowles c. 1750. Copper engraving. 335x460mm. 

Price: £150

A view of the simple, dignified, classical frontage of Marlbrough House, built by Christopher Wren the Younger (under the supervision of his father) in 1709-11, for the 1st Duchess of Marlborough. The house was "Strong, plain, convenient, and with no resemblance to anything at Blenheim" according to the Duchess's wishes. The house was built of red Dutch bricks, brought to England as ballast in the troop transports that had carried soldiers for the Duke's army in Holland. Sarah herself supervised the completion of the house after dismissing Wren, because she felt that the contractors took advantage of him. In 1733 she tried to improve access to the house by making a new drive from the front entrance to Pall Mall but Robert Walpole, a bitter political rival, bought the leases of the houses there and obstructed the new gateway to spite her. The blocked up arch can still be seen. It was at the London house that Sarah spent much of her long widowhood beginning in 1722 and it was there that she died in 1744. During an early 1770's renovation, Sir William Chambers added a third story and put in marble fireplaces. The Dukes of Marlborough occupied the house until 1817 when the land reverted to the crown. Following the marriage of Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent, to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1816, Marlborough House was give to the young couple. The house was being readied for the family to move into for the winter season of 1817-1818, but tragically Princess Charlotte died in childbirth before the house was ready. Prince Leopold used Marlborough House until he became King of the Belgians in 1831. In that year, King William IV came to the throne and Parliament provided that his consort Queen Adelaide should have Marlborough House for life in the event of her widowhood. Marlborough House is now used by the British government as a Commonwealth Centre.


Sutton Nicholls.

The Monument. 

London, c. 1753. Copper engraving. 470x350mm. Traces of old folds. 

Price: £130

An interesting, somewhat exaggerated view of the Monument and Fish Street Hill, near London Bridge. Designed by Wren and his colleague Robert Hooke to commemorate the Great Fire of London which broke out at Farrinerís bakehouse on Pudding Lane on the night of September 2nd 1666. This engraving shows the Doric order column, 202 feet high, constructed of Portland stone and erected 1670-1 on the spot the fire broke out. At the summit of the Column is the flaming bronze urn symbolizing the Fire, and the balcony approached by a spiral staircase of 311 steps. The four panels carved in bas-relief at the base show the heroic efforts of Londoners and King Charles and his brother the Duke of York to put the Fire out. In the foreground is a street scene with traders, pedestrians and carts.



Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin.

The Microcosm of London.

London, R. Ackermann 1808-10. Aquatints. Original hand-colouring. Average size:- 230x280mm

The publisher and drawing master Rudolf Ackermann (1764-1834), had come to London from Germany in his early twenties. A philanthropist and businessman, the money he raised to help Leipzig after its devastation by Napoleon in 1813 made him a public figure in both England and Germany. The Microcosm of London, which combined the comic genius (although kept on a tight leash by Ackermann) of Thomas Rowlandson who executed the figures  and the precise architectural draughtsmanship of Augustus Pugin, was intended to provide an intimate look at the the major buildings and landmarks of Georgian London.


The Mint.

Price:  £130

A view of the Royal Mint in the Tower of London, with men minting coins on primitive stamping machines. The buildings of the New Mint at Tower Hill were finished by the end of 1809 (this view was published in February 1809), and the state of the art steam driven machinery was given a trial run in April 1810. During 1811 the transfer from the Tower was largely completed though it was August 1812 before the keys of the old Mint were finally delivered to the Constable of the Tower. The main building, designed by James Johnson and completed by Robert Smirke, achieved 'modest grandeur'. It was flanked by two gatehouses while behind it, and separated from it by an open quadrangle, were the buildings housing the machinery. There were dwelling houses for officers and staff and the site was surrounded by a boundary wall, along the inside of which ran a narrow alley. Patrolled by soldiers from the Mint's military guard, this alley became known as the Military Way.

Royal Cock Pit. 

Price: £85

The Royal Cockpit was first built by Charles II and located in Birdcage Walk, Whitehall. However, in 1810 Christís Hospital refused to renew the lease and a new building was constructed in Tufton Street, Westminster .


Surrey Institution. 

Price: £85

An interior view of the Rotunda of the learned scientific institution, established on Blackfriars Road, Lambeth in 1808. The object of the Institution comprised a 'series of lectures, an extensive library, and reading rooms; a chemical laboratory and philosophical apparatus &c..'  In spite of its eminent membership and the lecture series (one shown here) the society only survived until 1823. The building then went through various transformations until it was demolished in 1959 to make way for the dreadful United Africa House building.



St. Johnís Church, Upper Holloway. Revd. C. W. Edmonstone Incumbent. 

(London, c. 1830). Tinted lithograph. 310x410mm. 


Price:  £75

A fine, very rare, privately printed view of St. John the Evangelist Church, Holloway Road, north London, taken from the north. The brick church was designed by the young Charles Barry in 1822-26, and externally is a replica of his St. Paulís, Ball Pond Road. This view clearly shows the extensive church with its side aisles and roof pinnacles, the newly developed houses and villas along Upper Holloway Road and passerbys, horsemen and carriages in the road. The churchyard, once at the rear of the church, was destroyed by the coming of the Great Northern Railway in the 1840ís, and the church now abuts Holloway Road station.



Vue interieure d'une belle Gallerie conduisant aux Jardins de Vauxhall. 

Paris, Basset c. 1760. Copper engraving. Original hand-colouring. 290x430mm. Neat repair to bottom of engraved surface and title area. 

Price: £130

A rare and interesting vue d'optique showing the elaborately decorated interior of the Grand Gallery and colonnade through to the gardens at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with fashionably dressed patrons strolling in the foreground. The famous pleasure gardens at Vauxhall, south London opened just before the Restoration in 1660. Until the opening of Westminster Bridge in 1750 the gardens could only be reached by crossing the Thames by boat. Under the management of Jonathan Tyers between 1728-67, the gardens became one of Londonís most popular resorts. Tyers added supper boxes, ruins, arches, pavilions, intimate wooded walks and a Gothick orchestra which could accomodate fifty musicians. In 1840 the owners went bankrupt and after  many revivals the site was finally built over in 1859.



Johann Georg Winckler. 

View of Somerset House with St. Maryís Church, London.  

Augsburg, Georg Balthasar Probst c. 1760. Copper engraving. Bright original hand-colouring. 305x400mm. Discolouration and marks in the sky.

Price: £150

A very brightly coloured, naively executed, lively reversed optical view of old Somerset House in the Strand with the church of St. Mary le Strand in the middle of the road. The first Renaissance palace in England, Somerset House was begun in 1547 as a splendid London home for Lord Protector Somerset, but Somerset was executed only 5 years after construction began and while still unfinished the building passed to the Crown. It subsequently became a residence for the Stuart royal widows. Inigo Jones died here in 1652 while working on the building and Oliver Cromwell lay in state in 1658. After William and Mary came to the throne in 1688 the palace gradually fell into disrepair until it was demolished in 1775 and the present classical structure by Sir William Chambers built. The twelfth century church of St. Mary le Strand situated in the centre of the road, was destroyed by Protector Somerset in 1549 to make way for Somerset House. He promised to rebuild but never did, and parishioners had to use the nearby Savoy Chapel for nearly two hundred years. In 1714-17 the present small baroque church was designed by James Gibbs, the church, inspired by his studies in Rome, was Gibbsí first public building and gained him great reputation. Unfortunately, the church is now crumbling due to the combined effects of time, weather, heavy traffic and the blast of a wartime bomb.


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