Sketchbook: So touching in its majesty
The London that moved Wordsworth to put pen to paper on Westminster Bridge was captured in this splendid panorama. Hidden in a New York attic for years, it has now been returned to its home town.
Saturday 11 December 1999
The panorama is the work of several hands, but its similarity to Robert Havell Junior's 1831 Aeronautical View of London suggests he may have been involved in its production.
The piece was bought last year at Sotheby's for pounds 199,500, with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and the Victoria and Albert Museum. After 18 months of restoration, it has just gone on show at the Museum of London.
"It's a social document of a particular historical moment," explains Dr Lucy Peltz, assistant curator of paintings at the museum. "It depicts both the fashionable and commercial life of London, at a time when the country was isolated, but growing in economic strength." It was isolated, of course, because of the political disagreements between France and England that would be settled at the battle of Waterloo in 1812. If only Napoleon had seen this painting: to have London at his feet in panorama form might have been some consolation for his defeat.
A city laid bare
Some elements of the panorama are stylised: the perspective has been forced, to fit the city into the frame, and the blueness of certain church spires serves to direct the eye towards buildings of the greatest historical interest. On the left, notice the factory fire raging in Bermondsey, the funeral taking place at St John's churchyard in Southwark, the distant shape of the pagoda at Kew Gardens. Towards the right, there is a man firing a cannon on Brass Mount Battery at the Tower of London, sailors begging with a model boat and a man flying a kite over Tower Hill.
Life & Style blogs
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time: 10 worst gadgets of recent times
The secret to a great sex life revealed: Two cups of coffee a day
New Zealand 'the best country to work as a prostitute', says sex worker advocacy group
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Facebook status updates indicates whether a user is narcissistic or neurotic, research finds
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
- 1 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...