A View of Westminster Bridge, with parts adjacent as in the Year 1747
Coloured engravingpublished 25 February 1758
About the work
Designed by the Swiss architect Charles Labelye, Westminster Bridge was started in 1739 and finally opened to traffic in 1750 (after one of its piers began to sink, necessitating emergency repairs). Following the fire which destroyed much of Whitehall Palace in 1698, the area between the Banqueting House and the River was gradually occupied by aristocratic town houses. To the right, on the north bank of the Thames, we see Manchester Court, Dorset Court and Derby Court but curiously not Westminster Abbey, which would have towered over these buildings from this standpoint.
The original painting from which this print is copied belongs to the Fishmongers' Company. Westminster Bridge was one of Scott's favourite subjects. He also painted the bridge under construction (Bank of England collection), as well as painting a single arch of the Bridge (Tate collection).
The inscription under the image, ‘Publish'd according to Act of Parliament Feb.y 25.1758’, refers to the Act of June 1735, which required the engraver to inscribe a print with the exact date of publication in an attempt to prevent illegal copying of an image by other engravers for a set period of time.
About the artist
Engraver Pierre [Peter] Charles Canot is thought to have been born in France in c.1710; the brother of painter Philippe Canot. He was presumably in London by c.1735, when he produced hunting prints after paintings by John Wootton. A further set of prints, after marine works painted by Peter Monamy, were published in 1746. In 1758 he began a lasting collaboration with marine artist Richard Paton. The outbreak of the Seven Years' War brought commissions for depictions of the many naval engagements. He exhibited 19 works at the Society of Artists from 1760 to 1769 and was elected one of the original associate engravers of the Royal Academy in 1770, exhibiting there until 1776. Canot died at his home in Hampstead Road, in the winter of 1777-78.
Samuel Scott, marine and topographical painter, was born in London in c.1702. His early subjects were marine scenes and naval engagements, painted in the style of the van de Veldes. However, following Antonio Canaletto's visit to the capital in 1746, Scott was influenced by the growing popularity of the Venetian artist's views of London and the Thames and devoted himself almost exclusively to this subject. Scott's London views became particularly popular. Unlike other imitators of Canaletto, he avoided the Venetian artist's permanent Venetian blue skies. He settled in the fashionable writers' and artists' village of Twickenham but later moved to Bath, where he died.