Solemn Thanksgiving for the Recovery of His Majesty, 23 April 1789
Engraving and aquatintpublished 24 June 1790
About the work
This view of the interior of St Paul's Cathedral looks towards the organ. A large congregation is assembled in the presence of George III at a service of thanksgiving for his recovery. The king is seated in a box with members of the royal family in the centre. The Bishop of London stands in a pulpit to the right with one hand raised, as if to silence the crowd.
George III’s illness of 1788 began in the summer with a stomach pain. By October he was seriously unwell, mentally confused and occasionally violent. In December a ‘mad-doctor’ was brought in. In February 1789, just three days before a Regency Bill was due to take effect, it was announced that the king was in recovery. A thanksgiving service was held at St Paul's on 23 April to celebrate the news.
This print is dedicated to the Right Honorable William Gill, Lord Mayor of London from 1788 to 1789, who attended George III’s thanksgiving service.
Another engraving by printmaker John Neagle, after the same artist, Edward Dayes, was also published in 1790 and shows the Royal Procession passing through the interior of St Paul's in a view that looks west, along the nave of the cathedral.
About the artist
Robert Pollard was born in Newcastle and apprenticed to a watchmaker. He moved to London in 1774 and trained under painter R. Wilson and engraver I. Taylor. By 1781 he had settled in Islington, where he set up as an engraver and publisher. His earliest prints were views of naval actions. Pollard frequently worked with engravers R. Dodd and N. Pocock and sometimes published his own designs. Many of his prints combine different methods of engraving, although aquatint was often added by a specialist. In 1789 he was elected Director of the Incorporated Society of Artists. Pollard moved to Lower Holloway in 1810, selling his print stock, but there he began publishing sporting views, mostly designed by his son James (1792-1867). He died aged 83.
Edward Dayes was born in London and apprenticed to mezzotinter and painter William Pether. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1786. During his early career he worked as a miniaturist, later concentrating on the topographical landscapes in watercolour for which he is best-known. Thomas Girtin was a pupil of Dayes’ until an argument between the two seems to have led to Girtin’s imprisonment. Although not a pupil, J. M. W. Turner also studied Dayes’s work and some watercolours by Turner from the 1790s are virtually indistinguishable from those of Dayes. Towards the end of his career, Dayes began working in oils with less success. He was known as a difficult character with a fiery temper and committed suicide in London in 1804.
- Solemn Thanksgiving for the Recovery of His Majesty, 23 April 1789
- published 24 June 1790
- Engraving and aquatint
- height: 46.80 cm, width: 69.70 cm
- Purchased from Colnaghi, April 1952
- GAC number