During the 18th century St James’s Park resembled a country meadow, with deer and cattle grazing in the long, rough grass. This view represents the park looking towards Horse Guards Parade, the back of the Treasury and Westminster Abbey, its twin towers designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor now free of the scaffolding which had marked their construction between 1735 and 1740. The end of the Long Canal in St James’s Park can be glimpsed on the right.
This work was formerly in the collection of Edmund Thomas Gardner of London and had probably been owned by his father, John Edmund Gardner (1819-1899) of Park House, Swiss Cottage, a lamp and chandelier manufacturer, lamp oil seller and ‘gas engineer’. John Gardner formed a considerable collection, mainly of prints but also including drawings, armour and other curiosities.
When an employee at the Office of Works bought this painting for the Government collection in 1929, he also purchased two other works at the same sale, 'The Fire at the Houses of Parliament' and 'The Burning of the Houses of Parliament'. Both are now held in the Parliament Art Collection at the Palace of Westminster.
[Presumably collection of John Edmund Gardner (1819-1899) of Park House, Swiss Cottage, London; by descent to] Edmund Thomas Gardner of Park House; by whose daughter sold through Sotheby's, London, ‘Pictures of the Italian and Dutch Schools from various sources’ sale, on 30 October 1929 (Lot 69); from which sale bought by ‘Reddock’ on behalf of the Office of Works
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