Marlborough House in St. James’s Park
Coloured engravingpublished 1754
About the work
Fashionable and colourfully dressed men and women walk to and from the entrance of the grand residence, Marlborough House. Above the house, built to Sir Christopher Wren’s designs, is a swallow-tailed banderole (a small banner or streamer), which carries the title ‘Marlborough House In St James's Park’.
Christopher Wren designed a brick building with rusticated stone quoins (cornerstones) for John and Sarah Churchill, Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. The building was built between 1709 and 1711 on land leased to the Duchess by Queen Anne. It was used by successive generations of the Marlborough family for over a century. The Victoria and Albert Museum, then known as the Museum of Manufactures, first opened at Marlborough House in 1852, but shortly afterwards was transferred to Somerset House and then to the current museum building in South Kensington. From 1853 to 1861, Marlborough House was used by the National Art Training School (now the Royal College of Art). It was later enlarged by architect Sir James Pennethorne as the official residence of the Prince of Wales. In 1953, following the death of the building’s last resident, the Queen Dowager, Mary of Teck, Queen Elizabeth II donated the building for use by the Commonwealth Secretariat and it continues to serve this purpose today.
About the artist
Sutton Nicholls, draughtsman and engraver, is best known for his panoramic views of the cities of London and Westminster, but also produced prospects of gentlemen’s seats, like this example. Almost all his works were made as commissions for publishers, the earliest of which were illustrations to Philip Ayres’s ‘Emblems of Love in Four Languages’. Nicholls specialised in topographical and architectural designs and his bird’s-eye views of London illustrated ‘Prospects of the Most Noted Buildings in and about London’ (published by John Bowles in 1724). He also produced ward maps to illustrate John Strype’s edition of John Stowe’s ‘Survey of London’, published in 1720.