Inscribed: ‘THE GATE AT WHITEHALL. Said to be Design'd by Hans Holbein’, this print shows what was commonly known as the Holbein Gate in Whitehall. The structure was built in 1532 and demolished in 1759. There is no evidence that the artist Hans Holbein (1497/8-1543) had any part in its design, although he may have occupied lodgings within it.
At a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries on 22 May 1723 it was proposed that drawings be made of the Holbein Gate before its planned destruction, which would allow more space for coaches to pass along Whitehall. George Vertue, official engraver to the Society, was asked to produce the drawings, which he did on 11 December 1723. In November 1741 Vertue gave his drawings of both this gate and the Westminster (King Street) Gate to the Society, where they have remained ever since.
This work was initially published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1725 but was reissued in volume 1 of ‘Vetusta Monumenta’ (‘Ancient Monuments’) in 1747. ‘Vetusta Monumenta’ is a series of illustrated antiquarian papers on ancient buildings, sites and artefacts, mostly in Britain, which was issued at irregular intervals between 1718 and 1906 and distributed to the Society’s members.
George Vertue was born in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. His parents served in the court of James II and his father may have later become a tailor. He was first apprenticed to a silver engraver and later to Flemish engraver Michael Vandergucht. His early work includes plates after Kneller, whose academy he attended from 1711. Vertue served as official engraver to the Society of Antiquaries (1717-56). In the 1720s he concentrated on portrait frontispieces, producing over 120 in total. From 1727 he was engraver to Oxford University. Vertue was also a publisher and ran a print shop near Drury Lane. In 1712 he began gathering information for a publication on the history of art in Britain, which remained unfinished at his death.
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