Tower of London

James Baker Pyne (1800 - 1870)

watercolour and pencil on paper

1830-1839
  • About the work

    This skilfully executed watercolour shows a view of the Tower of London from the moat. Just to the right of the Tower of London itself, the red roof and grey tower of the Grand Storehouse can be seen. Construction of the Storehouse, which housed displays of a substantial collection of arms, began in 1688. This drawing was made not long before the Storehouse and its displays were destroyed by fire on 31 October 1841. The fire started in the Tower of London and spread to the roof of the Storehouse. Several later prints show flames licking around the building or the ruins of the Storehouse after the fire.

    At the time this print was published, Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington held the position of Constable (or Governor) of the Tower (serving from 1826 to 1852). Wellington is probably the most famous Constable to have served and during his tenure he oversaw the removal of the Royal Record Office and Menagerie from the Tower, as well as the restoration of many of the medieval buildings.

    A very similar view of the Tower of London, painted in washes of brown watercolour by an unknown artist, is in the collection of London Metropolitan Archives.

  • About the artist
    Landscape painter James Baker Pyne was born in Bristol, where he worked as a self-taught artist until the age of 35. He gave painting lessons to William James Müller, who later became an artist of repute. In 1835 Pyne moved to London, exhibiting his work at the Royal Academy, British Institution and New Watercolour Society over two decades. In his early period he painted views and scenery around Bristol but after 1835 he travelled to Italy and elsewhere on the Continent, gathering material to work up into finished pictures. Pyne was an admirer and imitator of Turner; his dramatic effects and use of pale yellow tones reflecting Turner's influence. Today, his records of works produced from 1840 to 1868 are in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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  • Details
    Title
    Tower of London
    Date
    1830-1839
    Medium
    watercolour and pencil on paper
    Dimensions
    height: 39.00 cm, width: 58.50 cm
    Acquisition
    Presented by William Selkirk, May 1952
    GAC number
    1724