View of Somerset House / Vue de Somerset House
Coloured aquatintpublished 1833-1850
About the work
This image was originally published as plate four of Havell’s ‘Views of the Public Buildings and Bridges’. The series of twelve prints was published in 1820-21 by Messrs. Colnaghi & Co. of Cockspur Street, London. It was then reissued sometime between 1833 and 1850 by Francis West, who principally worked as an optician but also had a sideline as a publisher and printseller. This is an example of the later version of the print.
About the artist
Robert Havell junior was the son of painter, engraver and publisher Robert Havell senior. Together with his father, Robert junior formed the firm of R. Havell & Son. Father and son worked jointly on numerous projects, including their ‘Series of Views of the Public Buildings & Bridges in London’ (1821-22) and ‘Birds of America’ (1827-39) for the American ornithologist John James Audubon. However, Robert senior died in 1832, leaving his son to complete the project. In the following few years Havell focused on oil painting. As a result of his friendship with Audubon, he decided to emigrate to America, moving to Tarrytown, New York state, in 1857. Here he became a leading member of the Hudson River school. He died in Tarrytown at the age of 84.
Robert Havell senior, son of artist and publisher Daniel Havell, was born in Reading but moved to London as a child. After Robert launched his career, father and son collaborated on illustrations for Henry Salt’s ‘Twenty Four Views Taken in St. Helena’ (1809–10). However, the partnership was short-lived and Robert later established himself at premises in Fitzrovia. He married Lydia Miller Phillips and had a son, Robert junior. Robert junior and his father formed the firm of R. Havell & Son, working on numerous projects including ‘Birds of America’ for John James Audubon. The scale of this project led them to employ 50 additional staff and move to larger premises in Oxford Street. Robert senior died a year after the company expansion.