This view of the Adelphi on the River Thames in London shows the building at around the time of its completion in 1773. The Adelphi was a complex of buildings, including an elevated terrace of 22 private houses. With the exception of No. 7 Adam Street and one or two other properties, the buildings were demolished in 1936. Among the other structures depicted here are the tower and chimneys of the York Buildings Waterworks Company, which provided part of the first comprehensive water supply to London. The waterworks were named after York House, which formerly stood on the site but was demolished in the 1670s. The wooden octagonal tower of the waterworks was about 70 feet high and two steam-powered pumps were used to raise the water.
Marlow painted numerous views of the River Thames and this is one of several in which the Adelphi features strongly. He exhibited 'The Adelphi' at the Society of Artists in 1771 and 'View on the River (The Adelphi)' at the Royal Academy in 1789. A version titled ‘The London Riverfront from Westminster to the Adelphi’ is now in the collection of the Museum of London.
Landscapist William Marlow was born in London or Southwark. He trained in the studio of marine painter Samuel Scott in Covent Garden (1756-61) and is also thought to have studied at the St Martin’s Lane Academy. Marlow spent his early career travelling around England in search of subjects; painting English country houses and the areas around Twickenham, Richmond, and the lower banks of the Thames. On the advice of the Duchess of Northumberland he travelled to France and Italy (1765-66). He exhibited at the Society of Artists, becoming Vice-President in 1778, and at the Royal Academy. Marlow lived for a time in Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square). His one pupil was John Curtis. In c.1785 he retired to Twickenham, where he died aged 72.
Collection of Maldwin Andrew Cyril Drummond (born 1932); sold through Christie's, London, on 25 November 1977 (Lot 72); with Colnaghi, London; from whom purchased by the Department of the Environment in November 1978
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