This view of the Navy Office is from a King's Manuscripts folio attributed to Edmund Dummer (bap. 1651, d.1713), titled A survey and description of the principal harbours with their accommodations and conveniences for erecting, mooring, securing and refitting the Navy Royal of England (1698). The volume contains views of several properties and dockyards in the south and south east of England.
The Navy Office at Crutched Friars (labelled ‘Crutchit-Fryers’) in the City of London was built to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, in 1683-1684, after the previous building had burned down in 1672. The small plan at bottom right shows the additions made to the building after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
In comparison to earlier architectural drawings (such as John Rogers’ view of Hull Manor House), this drawing demonstrates a better handling of perspective which lends the view greater realism. An unusual feature is the perspective plan of the buildings in front of the Navy Office, a device which the artist has used to reveal the front of the main block. This view would have been impossible to see in real life.
- Article by:
- Ann Payne
- Military and maritime
Documenting national defence was a key purpose of topographical drawings. Ann Payne explores examples of military art in the British Library’s collections.