This 18th-century view of the Treasury and St James's Park includes several groups of people, including uniformed guards and fashionably dressed women. Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace) can just be made out in the distance.
St James’s Park was remodelled and opened to the public by King Charles II. The canal, a 775 by 38 metre stretch of water, was probably originally designed by French landscaper André Mollet. Between 1826 and 1827, the perfectly straight canal was remodelled into a more natural-shaped lake by architect John Nash, under the instruction of the Prince Regent (later George IV).
This view also includes the Treasury building designed by William Kent. After, in 1732, the Board of Works reported that the Treasury was ‘in so ruinous and dangerous a condition that we don’t think it safe for your Lordships to continue in it’, Kent was called on to prepare new designs. Kent’s Treasury building was constructed between 1733 and 1736 at a cost of £18,000. The old Treasury building remains today and contains a Board Room with some of the original furniture, including the King’s chair, from which monarchs are thought to have presided over meetings of the Treasury board.
John Boydell was born at Dorrington. He was apprenticed to an engraver for seven years before publishing his first volume of printed views of England and Wales in 1748. In 1752 he opened a print shop in Cheapside. Boydell later bought old plates, imported prints and sold works in France, Holland, Germany and Italy. In 1789 he opened his Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall and the first set of engravings based on paintings exhibited in the gallery was issued in 1791. Many leading artists exhibited at the venue. Later in life he sustained severe financial losses as a result of the French Revolution and was forced to dispose of his Shakespeare Gallery by lottery. He became an alderman of the City of London and rose to be Lord Mayor of London.
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