This, the oldest of the Admiralty buildings, known as the Old Admiralty Building or Ripley Building, is a three-storey U-shaped building, designed by the architect Thomas Ripley and built between 1722 and 1726. The portico, once regarded as heavy and unsightly, is now obscured by a screen of columns designed by architect Robert Adam and built between 1759 and 1761. William, Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) had the entrance enlarged (1827-28) to allow his carriage to pass through. The building was heavily bombed during the Second World War and damaged by fire in 1955 but had been restored by 1958. Today, it is used to accommodate the Cabinet Office.
This aquatint is from the series of 100 plates titled ‘A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster’, published between 1792 and 1801. All the original drawings for the plates and the aquatint engravings made from them were produced by Thomas Malton junior. The publication of ‘A Picturesque Tour’ was not only the first time a substantial collection of images of British landscape and architecture had been brought together in a single publication, but also the first British volume on any subject to assemble such a large collection of engravings.
Thomas Malton junior was a teacher of perspective, draughtsman, etcher and aquatint engraver of views after his own designs and caricatures after Thomas Rowlandson. He was born in London, the son of the architectural draughtsman Thomas Malton senior and the brother of James Malton, who also became a well known draughtsman and aquatint engraver. Malton junior worked in Dublin for three years for the architect John Gandon and later studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He also worked as a scene painter, as well as running evening drawing classes, at which Turner took lessons in perspective. From 1796 until 1804 he lived in Long Acre, off St. Martin’s Lane. He is best known for his careful drawings of London buildings.
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