A beggar holds out his hat in the entrance to Horse Guards. To the left, a couple with a child are carrying chimney sweeping equipment. From their position within the gloomily lit archway, they have a view of the bright new building of Horse Guards, framed by the arch. The 17th-century Horse Guards building, once a guard-house for the palace of Whitehall, was demolished in 1749. The construction of this new building, designed by William Kent (1684-1748), began the following year, although it would not be entirely complete until 1858.
The best known prints by engraver and actor Edward Rooker are probably his series of ‘Six London Views’, of which this is one. Five of the views were made after drawings by Paul (c.1731-1809) and Thomas Sandby (c.1723-1798). This print was the only one made after a drawing by Rooker’s son, Michael Angelo Rooker. The works were first published in 1767-68 by Edward Rooker. They were later reprinted after Rooker’s death by Joseph Boydell.
Little is known of the early life of Edward Rooker. He was a pupil of engraver Henry Roberts, in High Holborn, while simultaneously pursuing a career in acting. Between 1748 and 1749, he engraved drawings after designs by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. He appeared on stage at the New Wells Theatre in 1749 and, by 1752, had joined the company at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His career as an engraver continued with plates for William Chambers’ ‘Designs of Chinese Buildings’ (1757) and James Stuart’s ‘Antiquities of Athens’ (1762). He collaborated with Paul and Thomas Sandby on ‘Six London Views’, and again with Thomas for illustrations to Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered’. He died unexpectedly, at around the time of 50th birthday.
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