Narrow paths cross the courtyard of Scotland Yard, on three sides of which are densely packed buildings. To the left, four men enthusiastically gesture in the same direction, apparently towards a woman in an upper window. To their right, a woman and her daughter carry pails, while a dog follows behind them. In front of a carriage parked at the right of the composition, two men by a wall (one standing, the other seated on a bench) are in discussion. The seated man holds a copy of a book titled 'Vans House, A Poem'. Behind the buildings to the left of the composition, the corner of Banqueting House can be seen.
Most of Old Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in 1698. However, Banqueting House, designed by Inigo Jones in 1619 as part of the Palace and completed in 1622, is the only part of the Old Palace above ground, which survives today. It remains the property of the Queen, although it is now run by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is open to the public.
Part of the Old Whitehall Palace was intended for the use of the Kings of Scotland and the courtyard, known as Great Scotland Yard, was named after this section of the Palace. A row of houses in the yard, built in 1820, more than 50 years after this print was published, would eventually become the temporary headquarters of the newly formed Metropolitan Police Force. The current Scotland Yard is still named after this, the original location.
Paul Sandby, painter, printmaker and drawing master, was born in Nottingham. He was taught by his elder brother, architect and draughtsman Thomas Sandby, and followed Thomas in working at the Board of Ordnance. In 1747, he was made official draughtsman to the military survey of the Scottish Highlands, following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. During the Gordon Riots of 1780, he was employed to record the military encampments in London. He was chief drawing master at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich from 1768 to 1796. Sandby was involved in the establishment of the Society of Artists and was a founder member of the Royal Academy. His made numerous views of Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park, over a period of around 50 years.
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