Vue Perspective de Couvent Garden (Perspective View of Covent Garden).
17 x 10 inches
A copper plate engraving with original hand colour; published in Paris circa 1750.
This view depicts the piazza looking west towards St. Paul's Church. It predates the construction of the covered market halls as we know them today and instead shows a large open marketplace delineated by a fence on one side and low-rise buildings on the other.
Optical views, or perspectives as they were commonly called, originated in the early eighteenth century, initially as part of the London topographical print market, and then from the 1740s onwards they reached new heights of popularity in cities such as Augsburg and Paris. They were typically horizontal in orientation, firmly engraved with lines of perspective and strongly coloured, initially depicting the capital cities of Europe but later embracing more exotic locations from around the world. As people moved around Europe and further overseas these views became increasingly popular as an entertainment once the traveller had arrived home. In the wealthy drawing rooms of London and Paris these prints would be produced after dinner along with an optical viewing device known as a zograscope or viewfinder.