The Encampment in St. James’s Park, 1780

Paul Sandby (1731 - 1809)

Colour aquatint

published May 1783
  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    On 2 June 1780, Lord George Gordon presented a petition of some 44,000 names of Londoners, demanding the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act, to parliament. A crowd of c.60,000 people gathered in Southwark and marched to Westminster, where they assembled at Palace Yard. In the following days the protestors grew violent. King George III called out the troops, who remained in encampments, set up in St James’s Park and Hyde Park until the rioting ceased in August that year. Watercolourist Paul Sandby painted a record of the army's movements and their life within the encampments. He exhibited six of these views at the Royal Academy in 1781 and also published sets of aquatints of his watercolours.

    There are at least three original watercolours by Sandby on which this print of St. James’s Park is based. One is at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. Another was sold from a private collection through Christie’s, London, in 2009. A third, showing the two boys and girl with a dog that appear to the right of the print (which may represent the artists’ children Thomas and Nancy, and his nephew Jeffrey) is in the Castle Museum, Nottingham.

  • About the artist
    Paul Sandby was born in Nottingham. He was a painter, printmaker, draughtsman and drawing master, who made an important contribution to the development of British watercolour painting. He was taught by his elder brother Thomas Sandby (c.1723–1798), architect and draughtsman, and followed Thomas in finding employment with the Board of Ordnance. In 1747 Sandby was appointed official draughtsman to the military survey of the Scottish Highlands, following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. He continued his work in a similar capacity when employed to record military encampments in London, established following the Gordon Riots of 1780. He also held the post of chief drawing master at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich from 1768 to 1796. Sandby was a central figure in the establishment of the Society of Artists in 1761 and, like his brother Thomas, a founding member of the Royal Academy. Today, he is best-known for his numerous views of Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park, executed over a period of some 50 years. Little is known of the early life of Edward Rooker. He was a pupil of engraver Henry Roberts, based in High Holborn, while he simultaneously pursued a career in acting. Between 1748 and 1749, he engraved three complex drawings after designs by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. He also appeared on the stage at the New Wells Theatre, London, in 1749 and, by 1752, had joined the company at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he remained for 22 years. Rooker’s career as an engraver continued with a print of a sectional view of St Paul’s Cathedral (1755) and works for publications, including plates for William Chambers’ Designs of Chinese Buildings (1757) and James Stuart’s 'Antiquities of Athens' (1762). He collaborated with Paul and Thomas Sandby on 'Six London Views', and again with Thomas for a series of illustrations to Tasso’s 'Jerusalem Delivered'. Rooker died unexpectedly in 1774, after inviting friends to supper at his home in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, probably to celebrate his 50th birthday.
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  • Details
    The Encampment in St. James’s Park, 1780
    published May 1783
    Colour aquatint
    Purchased from Agnew's, January 1956
    GAC number