This finely observed painting by Johann Spilberg II shows the west side of the Tower of London during the Restoration period, after the Great Fire of 1666. The complex of buildings is surrounded by medieval walls and towers covered with brick embrasures. In the foreground are the remains of 15th century buildings as well as the Norman White Tower built between 1075 and 1079, which can be seen in the distance. During the reign of Charles II, the tower’s use as a state prison declined and became the headquarters of the Office of Ordnance. Spillberg’s vibrant painting is embellished with numerous revealing details of everyday Stuart life and clothing: we notice fruit sellers, men on horseback and elegantly dressed courtiers strolling along the pathway as the Royal coach of Charles II passes by. Spillberg’s depiction of this historic building and its surroundings taken from a different angle is a significant visual record of the late seventeenth-century.
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