This view was drawn from the rooftop of Albion Mills and over a quarter of the image is taken up by the grey slate roofs and chimneys of the mill. All 360 degrees of the panorama are included and it is made up of six individual printed plates assembled together. When the image was first created the building, which then housed sugar mills, was the highest structure between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Although the original drawings on which the work is based are generally attributed to Robert Barker and are likely to have been made with his involvement, it was his son, Henry, who was sent onto the roof of Albion Mills to make the earliest studies for the work in the winter of 1790–91. Henry also produced the outline etching of the scene, which was later aquatinted by printmaker Frederick Birnie. Albion Mills burnt down shortly after the original drawing, on which this print is based, was completed. The drawing was exhibited in London in the same year, in a building at the back of Robert Barker’s residence at 28 Castle Street.
Henry Aston Barker, son of the inventor and painter Robert Barker, was born in Glasgow in 1774. Initially he worked as an assistant to his father, but later became known for his own large-scale panoramas, travelling to Constantinople, Paris, Palermo, Copenhagen, Malta and Venice to paint the views. Henry retired in 1826 and died in Bilton, near Bristol, some 30 years later.
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