The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Sep 10, 2012

The City in Art

The other day I went into the Guildhall Art Gallery where I found an entire series of artworks depicting the heart of London over the centuries. Here are a few that I liked.

First off, Blackfriars Bridge and St Paul's, a view painted many times by William Marlow (1740-1813). The City wharves are visible through the bridge's Portland stone arches. The design of the bridge was by a 25-year-old man called Robert Mylne who had been influenced by Piranesi during his sojourn in Italy.

Blackfriars Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral, by William Marlow
Next, we have a depiction of a frozen Thames, which happened fairly frequently in the years before the demolition of Old London Bridge, the river's flow having been impeded considerably by that structure. Frost Fairs used to be held atop the ice. This view is from Whitehall looking north and east from Westminster Bridge on the right, which was under construction at the time.

The Thames during the Great Frost of 1739-40, by Jan Griffier
And finally we have a Canaletto-like sharply limned and well-lit view of the entrance to that foulest of London sewers, the Fleet river. This is an idealised view of the Fleet Ditch with the Bridewell Footbridge making London appear a bit like Venice. St Bride's Church's spire, the Bridewell belfry and St Martin Ludgate's spire are seen atop the roofline.

Entrance to the Fleet River, by a follower of Samuel Scott


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