- Museum number
Westminster Bridge; a near view of the western half of the bridge from a point on the stream below it, old houses on the river to right, and Lambeth Palace seen through the arches of the bridge. c.1744
Brush drawing in grey wash, with watercolour
- Production date
- 1744 (circa)
Height: 353 millimetres
Width: 1108 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The drawing must date from before the beginning of 1745 when the abutments of the arches of Westminster Bridge were finished. It was used, however, as the basis for five paintings showing the bridge as it appeared after completion at the end of 1750 (Kingzett, pp. 60-2), as well as for a print by P.C.Canot.
The buildings on the north bank are houses fronting on to a series of small but elegant streets between the river and Parliament Street: Manchester Court, Dorset Court and Derby Court. What appears to be a large stone-built house with a pediment was in fact a terrrace of three substantial houses in Dorset Court with gardens running down to the river and stairs where boats could tie up.
Until the 1740s Scott was almost exclusively a marine painter in the tradition of Willem van de Velde, whose work was to remain a dominant influence throughout his career. It is often said that in his London views Scott was emulating Canaletto who came to London in 1746, but the dating on external topographical grounds of his preparatory drawings establishes that he was making sketches of London in the early 1740s. If there were a foreign influence it could equally well be the townscapes of contemporary Dutch painters, such as Van der Heyden. While Scott's paintings frequently include capricious or inaccurate details, studies such as this example (which should be compared with Sandby's views of the Thames, see 1984,u.1 and 1984,u.2) appear to be truthful. The precision of outline in this drawing, as well as its considerable size, suggest that it was not made on the spot, but worked up from such a sketch as 1868,0328.338. Although there is no documentary evidence, Scott may have used (as Canaletto certainly did) a camera obscura.
The view is of the Westminster bank of the Thames and to judge from the progress of the building of the bridge, this drawing would seem to date from before January 1745. The paintings based on this drawing are generally dated in the 1750s.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1953 Aug BM, P&D, 'Canaletto and the English draughtsmen', no.22
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.7
2003 May-Nov, BM, London 1753, no. 4.27
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number