The South West Prospect of London
22.5 x 15.5 inches
A hand coloured copper plate engraving of London and the Thames showing the north bank of the river from where Somerset House now stands in the east down to London Bridge and the Tower in the west. Also visible are the dozens of city church spires and dominating them all the magnificent dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. Published in London circa 1750.
This is a wonderfully comprehensive view of mid C18th London and its many landmarks. It is one of a series of prints that were called optical views, or perspectives. They originated in the early eighteenth century, as part of the topographical print market in cities such as Augsburg, Paris and London. They were typically horizontal in orientation, firmly engraved with lines of perspective and strongly coloured. As people moved around Europe 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.