View of St. James’s Park Shewing Rosamond’s Pond
colour lithograph25 December 1840
About the work
The history of Rosamond’s Pond is explained by L. A. Phillips in ‘A Mighty Mass of Brick and Smoke: Victorian and Edwardian Representations of London’ (2007):
‘Rosamond’s Pond was connected to the west end of the canal in St. James’s Park. The name recalled Rosamond Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, who died around 1176 in her early thirties… at the hands of Henry’s jealous wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who, legend held, forced Rosamond to poison herself. Not surprisingly, a stigma of self-murder was attached to Rosamond’s Pond…’
The pond was filled up in 1770, perhaps because of its association with suicide. This print was made after a painting by Hogarth ‘in the collection of Henry Ralph Willett Esqr, of Merly House in the County of Dorset’. Willett was a descendant of book collector and connoisseur Ralph Willett who, in 1751, acquired the estate at Merly in Dorset. His descendant, Henry, owned 26 paintings and sketches by Hogarth. Hogarth’s painting of ‘View of St. James's Park Shewing Rosamond's Pond’ was later in the collection of art collector and philanthropist Louisa Caroline Baring (née Stewart-Mackenzie), Lady Ashburton. Its whereabouts is now unknown.
About the artist
The portraits and social satires of William Hogarth, painter and engraver, have come to define the period in which he lived. His best known works include his series of satirical of paintings, such as ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ (c.1729, Birmingham City Art Gallery, private collection and National Gallery of Art, Washington) and ‘A Rake’s Progress’ (c.1734, Sir John Soane's Museum, London). He also painted formal portraits, including the philanthropist ‘Captain Thomas Coram’ (1740, Coram family, in the care of the Foundling Museum, London) and ‘The Graham Children’ (1742, National Gallery, London). Hogarth lived and worked in London for most of his life and was a major benefactor of the Foundling Museum during the 1740s, founded by Captain Coram.