Westminster Bridge from Lord Fife’s Garden, Whitehall

William Tomkins (c.1732 - 1792)

Watercolour on paper

c.1771
  • About the work
    Location
    Country: Uruguay
    City: Montevideo
    Place: British Embassy

    This bridge was the first to be built across the Thames in London since the medieval London Bridge. It was opened in 1750 and was replaced by the present cast-iron bridge in 1862.

    William Tomkin's watercolour view is taken from the grounds of a magnificent town house called Fife House, in Whitehall, London; located next to the River Thames. When Tomkins painted the view, landowner James Duff, second Earl Fife (1729-1809), who built the house, was resident. Fife died at his home in Whitehall on 24 January 1809 and the house was demolished in 1869.

    There are two drawings of Fife House itself by Charles Tomkins (1757-1823), son of William, in the British Museum, London; both signed and dated 1801.

  • About the artist
    William Tomkins first exhibited at the Free Society of Artists in 1761. He went on to exhibit at the Incorporated Society of Artists and the Royal Academy. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1771. Tomkins’ works are mostly representations of gentlemen’s seats in the North and West of England. His patrons included Edward Walter of Stalbridge in Dorset, the Parkers of Saltram in Devon and James Duff, Second Earl of Fife. Some of his works were engraved for ‘The Seats of the Nobility and Gentry in Great Britain and Wales’ (1787-c.1800) and ‘The Seats of the Nobility and Gentry, in a Collection of the Most Interesting and Picturesque Views’ (1779-86). He died at his home in Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, in London, aged about 60.
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  • Details
    Title
    Westminster Bridge from Lord Fife’s Garden, Whitehall
    Date
    c.1771
    Medium
    Watercolour on paper
    Dimensions
    height: 41.50 cm, width: 66.80 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Frank T Sabin, February 1955
    Inscription
    verso, extensive inscription in another hand dated: (by Old) Tompkins (Wm) A.R.A. C1730-1792. View of Westminster Bridge from / Lord Fife's Garden - bought by my / great Grandfather Thomas Lane at / Henry Mountfort's Sale for 21 ½ guas / as appears by a catalogue of the sale which I have. / W P G Borale[?] 10.6.05 William Tomkins A.R.A. View of Westminster Bridge from the / Earl of Fife's Garden at Whitehall. / the executed views of the Earl of Fife's mansion in Scotland / Elected A.R.A. 1771. / This drawing was exhibited at the R.A. in 1771 (No. 271) / as "View of Blackfriars Bridge from the Earl of Fife's Garden at Whitehall" / Blackfriars being an error for Westminster.
    Provenance
    Probably collection of landowner James Duff, second Earl Fife (1729-1809); collection of Henry Mountfort; from whose sale purchased by Thomas Lane for 21½ guineas; by descent to W. P. G. Borale[?] by 10 June 1905; with Frank T. Sabin; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in February 1955
    GAC number
    3161