The Horse Guards
About the work
In this mid 19th-century view, soldiers are seen parading in front of the Horse Guards building.
The 17th-century Horse Guards building (once the guard-house for the palace of Whitehall) was decayed beyond repair by 1749, when it was demolished to be replaced, in 1753, with the much grander, Palladian structure seen in this engraving. Construction of the new building, designed by painter, architect and designer William Kent, was completed in 1753. Kent had died by the time building work began, so architect John Vardy oversaw the project. The new Horse Guards building served as the headquarters of the British Army’s General Staff until 1872. It then continued to be used as the offices of the Commander-in-Chief of the British army until the post was abolished in 1904. The building subsequently became (and remains) the headquarters of two major army commands: the London District and the Household Division, both of which are under the command of a single Major-General.
About the artist
Watercolourist and engraver Joseph Lionel Williams was born in London; the son of wood-engraver Samuel Williams (1788-1853). He had three siblings, who also worked as wood-engravers, and the Williams brothers often collaborated with their father and with one another. Joseph helped his father with the plates for the Rev. Thomas Scott’s Bible (published 1833-34) and ‘Solace of Song’ (1836). Both Joseph and Emma Williams assisted Samuel with S. C. Hall’s ‘Book of British Ballads’ (1842), and Joseph and his brother Alfred produced illustrations independently for the ‘Illustrated London News’. Joseph exhibited 37 works at the Society of British Artists in London between 1834 and 1874. He died in Kensington in 1877.