In this winter scene the River Thames has frozen over and is thick with a layer of snow. The scene shows a ‘frost fair’ on the River, held near Three Cranes Wharf (seen to the left of the composition). Previous ‘frost fairs’ were held in 1564, 1608, 1634, 1715, 1739 and 1789.
The original watercolour for this aquatint print, which shows some minor differences to the published image, is now in the collection of London Metropolitan Archives.
Just before the print was published in February 1814, an advertisement for it was placed in the ‘Morning Chronicle’:
‘A Coloured PRINT, representing the THAMES (as seen off the Three Cranes Wharf) when FROZEN, on Monday the 31st January, and continued to the Saturday following; exhibiting the Diversions of its Visitors, which much resembled a Flemish Fair; also a correct View of London Bridge and the Buildings from the City side; from a Drawing taken on the Ice, by CALVERT, whose peculiar stile [sic] in soft hazy distance and general effect, has been much admired.’
The print was published by Burkitt and Hudson of 85 Cheapside and sold for 10 shillings.
Charles Calvert was born at Glossop Hall, Derbyshire; the son of an amateur artist and land agent to the Duke of Norfolk's estate in Derbyshire. He was eleven when his father died. He abandoned an apprenticeship in the cotton trade, to train as a landscape painter and was instrumental in the foundation of the Manchester Royal Institution (later Manchester City Art Gallery). He gained the Heywood gold medal for a landscape in oil and silver medal for a watercolour landscape. He exhibited only two works in London. Calvert devoted much of his time to teaching and spent the remainder painting in the Lake District. Although confined to his bed in later years, he continued to paint landscapes from memory. He died at Bowness, Westmorland, aged 66.
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