Bodleian Library Publishes "London: Prints & Drawings before 1800"

Oxford, 9 February 2017—A striking new book featuring historic views of London unearthed from the Bodleian Library’s collections presents a captivating panorama of the City during the eighteenth century.

This stunning large-format book reproduces over one hundred images from the Gough collection in the Bodleian Libraries, many of which are published here for the first time. By 1800 London was the second largest city in the world, its relentless growth fuelled by Britain’s expanding empire. However, compared to today, the built-up area was still comparatively small. Depicting the present Greater London area, this title offers images of town and countryside from more than two centuries ago which contrast graphically with what we see as the metropolis today.

The Gough collection of British topography is one of the most important collections of British topography. With houses in Enfield and the City, gentleman and antiquary Richard Gough (1735-1809) commissioned works and assembled a comprehensive collection of maps, drawings and engravings that provide unrivalled insight into his era. The London illustrations capture the range of activity in the sprawling city, and are accompanied by eye- witness accounts which range from descriptions of local crime and street scenes to the results of extreme weather and significant events.

Prints made of London before and after the Great Fire show how artists and engravers responded to contemporary events such as executions, riots, fires and the effects of a tornado. They also recorded public spectacles, creating beautiful images of firework displays and frost fairs on the river Thames. Panoramas of the river Thames were popular illustrations of the day, and the extraordinarily detailed engravings made by the Buck brothers are reproduced here. The construction and destruction of landmark bridges across the river are also shown in contemporary engravings.

Before the age of photography, the most widely used means of creating a visual record of the changing capital was through engravings and drawings, and those that survive today are invaluable in showing us what the capital was like in the century leading up to the Industrial Revolution.

With accompanying text detailing its history, this title offers a unique pictorial history of Georgian London that is visually rich, historically fascinating and of interest to Londoners and visitors alike.

  • London: Prints and Drawings before 1800 by Bernard Nurse
  • Published in association with The London Topographical Society
  • Format: 232 pp, 238 x 278 mm, 123 colour illustrations.
  • ISBN: 978 1 85124 412 6
  • Hardback, £30.00
  • Publication: 17 March 2017 
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