Whitehall

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall

    In this 1809 interior view by Rowlandson and Pugin, the interior of the Banqueting House, Whitehall, is depicted here during the time it was used as the Chapel Royal. Members of the congregation listen to a sermon being delivered by a priest in the pulpit.

    After most of the palace was destroyed by two fires in the 1690s, the Banqueting House, one of the few parts to survive, was refitted as a chapel by architect Sir Christopher Wren. An organ was installed on the side of the west wall and opposite it was a pulpit. Pews faced one another across a central aisle. The fashionable box pews, seen here, were rented to members of the congregation, while the less well-off sat on benches.

    The building served as the Chapel Royal through to 1890, when it became a museum. In 1962 it was restored and again used as a grand reception hall.

  • About the artist
    Augustus Charles Pugin fled to England in the 1790s, either because of his Royalism or on account of a duel. He seems to have landed in Wales, where he became a friend of the architect John Nash (1752–1835). He worked as a general artist, providing designs for Nash and painting scenery, before moving to London and studying at the Royal Academy Schools. He first exhibited architectural designs at the Academy in 1799 and, from 1807, began to exhibit at the Old Watercolour Society. Pugin worked on several projects for Rudolf Ackermann, including plates for The Microcosm of London and The Abbey Church of Westminster (1811–12). During this period he set up a school of architectural drawing and began to publish his own works. He was the father of A. W. N. Pugin, who designed the interiors of the Houses of Parliament.
    John Bluck was an aquatint engraver, mainly of topographical views, but also of marine and sporting subjects after his contemporaries. He produced plates for numerous publications.
    Thomas Rowlandson was born in London, the son of a bankrupt wool and silk merchant. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools, making a trip to Paris during his time there, and won the silver medal in 1777. During the next two decades he made several continental tours, visiting France, Italy, Germany and Holland, as well as travelling extensively in England and Wales. He exhibited from 1775 to 1787 and, in 1789, received a legacy from an aunt, which he is said to have gambled away. From 1798, much of his work was for Rudolf Ackermann, most notably his illustrations for the three Tours of Dr Syntax (published 1812, 1820, and 1821) and The Microcosm of London (1808–10). He revisited France in 1814 and Italy in about 1820. Rowland continued to work almost until the end of his life. He is most famous as a caricaturist, but his work also included figure studies, portraits, marine subjects and landscapes.
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  • Details
    Title
    Whitehall
    Date
    published 1 December 1809
    Medium
    Coloured aquatint
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Christie's, 22 January 1954
    Provenance
    With Agnew’s Gallery, London; by whom sold through Christie’s, London, 22 January 1954 (Lot 21; with GAC 2558-2582, 2584-2585); from which sale purchased by Richard Walker on behalf of the Ministry of Works
    GAC number
    2583