This is a coloured aquatint engraving of a view over the city of Bath. It dates from the mid-18th century. By this time, Bath had undergone vast development and was established as a fashionable must-visit city resort.
What does this view show?
The artist has drawn an ideal Georgian landscape that channels picturesque qualities and exudes respectability.
Our overall impression from the view is one of controlled, harmonious order and consistency. It depicts neat, regimented neoclassical buildings all in white, made from the famous Bath Stone, a type of limestone. Religion is emphasised by the central, prominent placement of the medieval church which is also drawn in greater detail to the houses surrounding it. Characteristically picturesque, the scene features just a few carefully positioned figures. They all belong to polite, respectable society. To the right we can see the wealthy, upper classes, identified by their fashionable dress and leisure pursuits, while to the left are well-behaved, clean and industrious rural workers, who include a woman carrying a pail and a man bearing an agricultural tool.
Nature is given equal significance to the man-made city. Trees and greenery frame the view. The city buildings are balanced by this green space, which in turn provides a stark contrast to the bigger metropolitan cities.
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- The novel 1780-1832
Questions of status and class are a major preoccupation of Jane Austen’s characters, and of the novels themselves. Professor John Mullan considers both the importance of social status and its satirical potential.