The Fore-Front and Back-Front of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea
Coloured engravingpublished 1756
About the work
This hand-coloured engraving shows an elevation and a perspective drawing of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. The engraving was issued as Plate 85 of the second edition of William Maitland’s ‘The History of London’, published in 1756. Maitland was a wealthy merchant from Brechin in Scotland, who moved to London to become a history writer. ‘The History of London’, first published in 1739, was his chief work. It was made up of 200 sheets, including ‘a variety of copper plates’. Samuel Richardson (best-known as a novelist) printed the work, while William Henry Toms engraved 21 of the 24 plates.
The second edition of ‘History’ was published in two volumes in 1756. Maitland (who died the following year) had increased the text by a further 600 pages. Although 120 plates were advertised, the second edition included 122 plates in total, 21 of which had been used in the earlier version. The additional plates were engraved by Benjamin Cole. Cole produced his engraved views of London buildings from the buildings themselves, from architect’s drawings or from scale models of the buildings. Some of the church views were engraved after plates in ‘Perspective Views of all the Ancient Churches’ (1736-39) by Robert West.
About the artist
Benjamin Cole was from a well-known family of engravers. He began his career engraving maps and trade cards. His earliest architectural works are thought to be his series of English and Welsh cathedrals, published in 1715. These prints were incorporated into a series of ‘Prospects’, published by John Overton in the 1720s. Cole also engraved plates for ‘Views of the Several Parts of the Palace or Castle of Versailles’ (1725) for Overton. In 1736 Cole and William Henry Toms engraved the plates for architect Nicholas Hawksmoor’s ‘A Short Historical Account of London Bridge’. However, Cole more commonly engraved portraits and decorative subjects, such as bookplates, after works by contemporary artists.