This topographical view of St Paul’s Cathedral, engraved by John Harris I after a work by Bernard Lens II, illustrates the fine proportions and classical style of the most famous of London’s buildings. Designed between 1675 and 1710 by Sir Christopher Wren, architect to the royal court, St Paul’s was built in the heart of the City of London, on the site of a former cathedral, destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Since its construction in the 17th century, St Paul’s has become a place of national focus, where royal coronations, weddings and funerals are traditionally held, as well as commemorative services for major British figures. The cathedral has witnessed the funerals of Lord Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; the service to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee; and a service marking the 100th birthday of the late Queen Mother.
Watercolourist and engraver Bernard Lens II was the son of a miniature painter in enamel, also called Bernard Lens. In 1697 Lens II set up a drawing school with a partner named John Stuart in St Paul’s Churchyard, a road adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London. In 1705 Lens was appointed Drawing Master at Christ’s Hospital, a charity school. Here he taught drawing, particularly in respect to mapping and navigation. Lens died at the age of 66 and was buried at St Brides Church in Fleet Street. He had several sons, of whom John (1683-c.1716) and Edward (c.1685-1749) became drawing masters, while Bernard Lens III (1682-1740), the most successful, became a miniature painter.
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