The newly completed Treasury building in Westminster is seen here on the busy street of Whitehall, with horse-drawn carriages, soldiers and pedestrians passing by. The building depicted, now known as the Old Treasury, mostly houses the Cabinet Office today, while the Treasury is located in new headquarters, at No. 1 Horse Guards Road.
This building was designed by the architect Charles Barry (1795-1860) but also incorporates parts of an earlier structure designed by John Soane (1753-1837), as well as fragments of Henry VIII’s original Whitehall Palace, such as his tennis courts, a fireplace and some turrets. Numerous prints of the building were published shortly after it opened in 1847, including examples after works by the artists Albert Henry Payne (1812-1902) and Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1793-1864).
Line and mezzotint engraver Thomas Abiel Prior was born in London. He engraved landscapes after contemporary artists for publishers Henry Fisher and George Virtue. In 1837 he married Emma Sharrow and their son, Thomas William, was born the following year. Prior engraved J. M. W. Turner’s drawing ‘Heidelberg Castle and Town’ under the artist’s supervision (published 1844) and later made further engravings after Turner’s work. He produced 14 plates on steel for the ‘Art Journal’ (1850–71), including plates after works in the Royal Collection. His wife may have died in 1860, when he moved to Calais to be close to their son. Here he taught drawing at local schools, returning annually to assess proofs of his plates. He died in Calais aged 77.
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