FELLOWS, W.M. after Giovanni Antonio Canal, il CANALETTO (1697-1768)
View of Westminster, Taken Upon the Thames, at the Period of the Building of the Bridge
London: Published by John Thomas Smith, 1809. Engraving by Fellows after a painting of 1746 in the collection of the Honorable Percy Wyndham by the renowned Italian topographical painter, etcher, and draughtsman Canaletto. Very good condition apart from some minor foxing, a few mild creases in the bottom margin, and slight discolouration of the paper due to age. Sheet size: 12 1/4 x 14 7/8 inches. Plate mark: 9 7/8 x 12 1/8 inches.
A beautifully rendered panoramic view of the borough of Westminster during the construction of Westminster Bridge, from Smith's "Antiquities of Westminster." Built by the engineer Charles Labelye based on a design by Colon Campbell, Westminster Bridge was erected between 1738 and 1750. During its construction, ships could still pass underneath the bridges' arches, the undersides of which were reinforced by supportive wooden structures erected by James King.
The series from which this plate comes was originally begun with the intention of documenting the fourteenth-century murals, sculptures, and stained glass discovered during the expansion of the House of Commons. It evolved, however, into an ambitious and detailed survey involving several artists and engravers of the various buildings of the Palace of Westminster. Comprised of numerous plates (several supplementary plates were later published in 1809) accompanied by the descriptive text of John Sidney Hawkins and Smith, Antiquities of Westminster constitutes an invaluable visual record of the appearance of the Westminster before it succumbed to the fire of 1834. John Thomas Smith, an antiquarian of high repute, was also a talented etcher. His published work focuses almost entirely on London and its environs, and he was unusual for his time in that he recorded all strata of society. A pupil of the Royal Academician Joseph Nollekens and the mezzotint engraver John Keyse Sherwin, Smith began his career as engraver and topographical draughtsman. His first publication, Antiquities of London and its Environs (1800), was followed by his magnum opus Antiquities of Westminster (1807). In 1816, Smith became the keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum, a position he held for the duration of his life. He completed The Ancient Topography of London in 1815 and continued to publish various literary and illustrated works throughout his life, including a well-received biography of Nollekens in 1828 and Cries of London (1839).
Cf. Adams, London Illustrated 1604-1851 98; cf. Lowndes III, p. 2427; cf. Abbey, Scenery of Great Britain and Ireland 210; cf.Dictionary of National Biography.