The Horse Guards

  • About the work

    A beggar holds out his hat in the entrance to Horse Guards. To the left, a couple with a child are carrying chimney sweeping equipment. From their position within the gloomily lit archway, they have a view of the bright new building of Horse Guards, framed by the arch. The 17th-century Horse Guards building, once a guard-house for the palace of Whitehall, was demolished in 1749. The construction of this new building, designed by William Kent (1684-1748), began the following year, although it would not be entirely complete until 1858.

    Probably the best known prints by engraver and actor Edward Rooker are a series of ‘Six London Views’, of which this is one. Five views in the set were made after drawings by Paul (c.1731-1809) and Thomas Sandby (c.1723-1798). This print was the only one of the set made after a drawing by Rooker’s son, Michael Angelo Rooker. The works were first published in 1767-68 by Edward Rooker and were reprinted after his death by Joseph Boydell.

  • About the artist
    Michael [Angelo] Rooker, watercolourist and scene designer, was born in Bloomsbury, the son of Edward Rooker. In the 1760s, he collaborated with his father. He also studied under Paul Sandby and adopted the name ‘Angelo’, given in jest by Sandby. In 1769, he entered the Royal Academy Schools and later became an associate. He designed frontispieces for George Coleman’s edition of ‘The Dramatic Works of Beaumont and Fletcher’ (1778) and Thomas Cadell’s edition of Fielding’s ‘Works’ (1783). For 20 years he produced the frontispiece for the ‘Oxford Almanack’. In 1779, he was made Scene Painter at the Haymarket Theatre and also painted scenes for the Duke of Marlborough’s theatre at Blenheim. He died in Soho, just before his 55th birthday.
    Little is known of the early life of Edward Rooker. He was a pupil of engraver Henry Roberts, in High Holborn, while simultaneously pursuing a career in acting. Between 1748 and 1749, he engraved drawings after designs by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. He appeared on stage at the New Wells Theatre in 1749 and, by 1752, had joined the company at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His career as an engraver continued with plates for William Chambers’ ‘Designs of Chinese Buildings’ (1757) and James Stuart’s ‘Antiquities of Athens’ (1762). He collaborated with Paul and Thomas Sandby on ‘Six London Views’, and again with Thomas for illustrations to Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered’. He died unexpectedly, at around the time of 50th birthday.
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  • Details
    The Horse Guards
    Series Title
    Six Views of London
    published 20 February 1768
    Presented by Sir Nigel Ronald, January 1954
    GAC number