London: A History in Paintings & Illustrations
London has been an irresistible subject for generations of artists, draughtsmen and photographers, who have captured scenes of everyday life as well as the grand occasions, depicting the formality and the commonplace. Their work has provided us with a rich legacy that is a record of London and its people, complementing the testimony of writers in portraying the humour and sometimes the folly within the metropolis. The range of illustrations includes the atmospheric paintings of Claude de Jongh from the early seventeenth century, the Georgian elegance shown on Canaletto's cultured canvases, the satirical depictions of gin-soaked mothers by William Hogarth, and Gustav Dore's disturbingly grim images of slums dwellers of Victorian London. The map-makers, too, captured the layout and character of the city. But there are other illustrations, by little-known draughtsmen, of particular corners or details of life within London's many worlds. A Dutch visitor, Johannes de Witt, was at the Swan Theatre on Bankside in 1596 and sent a sketch of the interior to an acquaintance, whose copy is the only contemporary illustration of the interior of a playhouse of Shakespeare's time. This spectacular collection of images from medieval times to the present includes paintings, sketches, prints and photographs, and is accompanied by authoritative explanatory accounts of the places, people and subjects illustrated. It reflects both the diversity and the changes in the city and underlines the significance of the pictorial record in understanding and appreciating London's past.
'A glorious gallery of places, people and events over two thousand years ... brings London vividly to life' -- Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust
Stephen Porter worked for over seventeen years for the Survey of London, a century-old project devoted to the history of London's built environment. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Historical Society, has held research posts at the University of Oxford and has lectured on London's history at the Museum of London. After twenty-five years living in the capital he now lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.