This view of the ‘North Front of St. James's Palace, from Cleveland Row’ by Thomas Shotter Boys was published in 1842 as part of ‘Original Views of London As It Is’, his most successful volume. The volume included ‘Historical and Descriptive Notices of the Views’, written by the publisher, writer and editor Charles Ollier (1788-1859). Ollier’s text on this image begins:
‘A foreigner who had seen Greenwich, probably in his passage to London by water, and who afterwards was shewn [sic] the regal residence at St. James’s, exclaimed, “The English are a strange people! their hospitals are palaces, and their palaces are hospitals!” This remark was perfectly just; and it is honourable to us as a nation, and to our monarchs as the heads of a free people, that it should be so. The maimed and superannuated men who have fought our battles are lodged under a nobler roof than that which covers the dwelling-place of kings. What can be finer than this; more demonstrative of our real strength, which exhibits itself in munificent deeds of benevolence, and seeks no support from outward show? …’
Thomas Shotter Boys was born in Pentonville, North London. He was apprenticed to engraver George Cook, before moving to Paris during the 1820s. There he met Richard Parkes Bonington, with whom he worked. He returned to England in 1837 and initially engraved the designs of other artists and contributed to publications. In 1839, Boys produced his own publication, ‘Picturesque Architecture in Paris, Ghent and Antwerp’, the first English book with lithographic plates entirely in colour. He was elected a member of the New Water Colour Society in 1841 and in the following year published ‘Original Views of London As It Is’. Boys spent the last 20 years of his life teaching drawing and working as a lithographer. He died aged 71 in St John's Wood.
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