St Paul’s Cathedral is depicted as it was more than 200 years ago in this aquatint print by Thomas Malton junior. The statue of Queen Anne in front of the cathedral steps is seen to the right of the composition. The version of the statue depicted is the original sculpture by Francis Bird (1667-1731), completed in 1712. By 1885 it was showing signs of deterioration and was replaced by a near replica, made by sculptor Richard Claude Belt (1851-1920). The original was saved from destruction by 19th-century travel writer Augustus Hare and is still located in the grounds of his former home, Holmhurst, in Baldslow, Sussex. However, it is now further deteriorated and is on English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register.
This aquatint print is taken from a series of 100 plates titled ‘A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster’, published between 1792 and 1801. The series is remarkable for all the plates being drawn, engraved and aquatinted by the same artist. Malton’s ‘Picturesque Tour’ was the first considerable collection of topographical and architectural drawings of London to be reproduced as aquatints and also the first British publication to assemble such a large number of aquatint prints.
Thomas Malton junior was a teacher of perspective, draughtsman, etcher and aquatint engraver of views after his own designs and caricatures after Thomas Rowlandson. He was born in London, the son of the architectural draughtsman Thomas Malton senior and the brother of James Malton, who also became a well known draughtsman and aquatint engraver. Malton junior worked in Dublin for three years for the architect John Gandon and later studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He also worked as a scene painter, as well as running evening drawing classes, at which Turner took lessons in perspective. From 1796 until 1804 he lived in Long Acre, off St. Martin’s Lane. He is best known for his careful drawings of London buildings.
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