Part of the Microcosm of London series, this hand-coloured etching and aquatint depicts the boardroom at the Admiralty.
Designed by Thomas Ripley (bap. 1682, d. 1758), and finished in 1726, the Admiralty contained staterooms, offices and residences for the use of the Lords of the Admiralty until 1964, when the newly created Ministry of Defence took on the combined governance of the Royal Navy, British Army and the Royal Air Force.
Background to the Microcosm of London collection of prints
The Microcosm of London was published in three volumes between 1808 and 1810 as a result of an ongoing collaboration between publisher Rudolph Ackermann, cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Rowlandson, architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin, engravers John Bluck, Joseph Constantine Stadler, Thomas Sunderland, John Hill and Richard Bankes Harraden, anonymous hand-colourists and authors William Henry Pyne and William Combe.
The Microcosm of London tapped into the demand for highly-coloured prints of real-life subjects that proved something of a publishing sensation during the Regency period. As such, the prints stand as a fascinating historical record of London life in the early years of the 19th century. While Pugin’s fine architectural drawings capture the size and shape of the capital’s principal buildings (both externally and from within) Thomas Rowlandson’s keenly observed figures depict the sheer colour and vitality of late Georgian society, rich and poor alike.