Sunken viewpoints and plunging perspectives are trademarks of Thomas Malton, the English topographical artist who created this view of New Palace Yard, Westminster in 1782. Malton produced it as a preparatory drawing for an aquatint (BL Maps K.Top.22.15.b.), issued alongside a view of Old Palace Yard from Margaret Street (BL Maps K.Top.22.16.). They are part of his series showing important London sites, like the Royal Exchange and Mansion House, published between 1781 and 1783.
That this drawing is unfinished makes it all the more interesting because each stage of production is visible. The pencil under-drawing can be seen in the entrance way to Westminster Hall at left, and in the figures making their way out onto the Yard. Relative to the nearby figures drawn over in ink, they appear almost ghostly. Fields of watercolour wash in a various stages of translucency have been applied to the rest of Westminster Hall, and the sky is pretty well resolved.
Westminster Hall is the oldest existing part of the royal Palace of Westminster and was erected in 1097. It was primarily used for judicial purposes, so it is fitting that three lawyers appear in the foreground of Malton’s view dressed for court. In the distance at centre the pinnacles crowning Westminster Abbey’s two towers can also be seen. This gothic church is the traditional place of coronation and burial for English kings and queens.
- Article by:
- Matthew Sangster
- Town and city, Transforming topography
Advances in print technologies, a growing consumer base and the interventions of clever entrepreneurs led to a burgeoning of prints of London in the 18th and 19th century. Matthew Sangster considers the ways in which these prints represented and organised the city, placing them onto a digital map of London to reveal the geographical and cultural patterns they trace.