A View of the Royal Palace of Hampton Court / Vue du Palais Royal de Hampton Court
About the work
Grand houses and their gardens, particularly ones with royal associations, attracted both British and foreign tourists in the eighteenth century, as they continue to do so today. Prints such as the one featured here, showing a view of Hampton Court Palace would have been popular with those who visited (or aspired to visit) such places; for instance connoisseurs or a relatively small elite group of people. In the present view, the palace is shown in the setting of its gardens, which are populated with fashionably dressed men and women.Hampton Court Palace is most commonly associated with King Henry VIII, but it predates him; and the part of the palace which dominates this print was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built under William III and his queen consort Mary. The first major resident of the building was Cardinal Wolsey, who took over the pre-existing property in 1514. Wolsey extended the building and provided a suite for Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; after Wolsey fell from favour, Hampton Court was given to the King. Henry spent time there with his wives, although it was not his favourite palace, and made many alterations. It retained its Tudor character into the reign of Charles I, who resided there as both king and prisoner. Parliamentary forces took control of Hampton Court in 1645, and it later became a residence for Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. On the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II added a suite of rooms, but the major alterations to the palace as we know it today came in the reign of William and Mary.
About the artist
Jacques Rigaud, a French draughtsman and etcher mainly of landscapes and topographical views, made numerous drawings of gardens in his home country. Sometime in the 1730s he visited England where he continued to draw views of parks and country estates. Rigaud was commissioned by Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington to make a series of views of the gardens of Chiswick House in London. However, following a disagreement with his patron, the drawings were never published. The Royal Gardener at Stowe, Charles Bridgeman, later commissioned him to draw 16 views of the gardens he had designed at Stowe to be made into a series of plates.