Monday, 16 November 2015

Westminster Bridge - 'all bright and glittering in the smokeless air'.

Here are two views of the newly built Westminster Bridge, finally opened in 1750,  the only crossing between Putney Bridge and London Bridge, for a city which had grown extensively in the last hundred years.  Both show Westminster Abbey,  viewed from opposite directions.  The simple topographical scene has its charm, (the shimmering light, the reflected arches), but the one taken from Lambeth, on the south bank of the Thames, is a wonderful atmospheric landscape of the Thames traffic and eighteenth century London.  

Westminster Bridge  Antonio Joli (attrib.) c.1750
© Parliamentary Art Collection

Joli came to London in 1744, and was known for his theatre scenery and mural paintings, but he also learnt from his fellow countryman, Canaletto, as this other view of the Thames crossing shows.

Westminster from the River, London  Antonio Joli c. 1750
© Bank of England Museum

The bridge was replaced a century later when it become unstable, but it was from this first Westminster Bridge that the poet Wordsworth saw the city in 1802.

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