Description

Spyers’ first set of commercial prints centred on a group of prominent houses close to the River Thames in Twickenham and Richmond in Surrey. This was an area familiar to the artist who had begun his career at his uncle’s nursery in Twickenham, which was also the location of his family home, Grosvenor House. The views, including this one from the King’s Topographical Collection, are typical of the work of Spyers in their topographical honesty as well as their slightly naïve animal life (greatly improved by the skill of the engraver).

As important as the houses shown in Spyers’ views were the names of their occupants, which are included in the title of each print. Sir Edward Walpole, whose house at Isleworth with the grotto and pavilion in its grounds is shown in one of the views, was the second son of Britain’s longest-serving prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Other subjects include the houses of the artist, ‘Lady Di’ Beauclerk, and of the former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Charles Asgill. Importantly, two of the views were reprinted in 1796 with the titles altered to reflect the houses’ latest ownership - A View of Sir Edward Walpoles House at Isleworth is re-named as A View of the Earl of Warwick’s House at Isleworth, while A View of His Grace the Duke of Montrose’s House in Twickenham Park becomes A View of the Seat of Lord Frederick Cavendish in Twickenham Park. At least two drawings exist that may have been intended to be turned into prints. Several of the houses have since been demolished.

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