About the work
From the top of the hill in Greenwich Park, emerges a prospect of the city of London painted with a great sense of accuracy and architectural detail. The river Thames winds its way around a barren marshy wilderness known as the Isle of Dogs. Robert Griffier’s painting reveals the extent to which the City of London had developed in the first half of the 18th century.
The distinctive dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is prominent on the far horizon, accompanied by the spires and steeples of other churches dotted across London. Another significant feature of this painting is the first of the two domes of the Greenwich Hospital, the grand neo-classical building designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor, which was founded in 1694. This painting offers a fascinating glimpse at the first stage of development of the building, constructed as the Royal Naval Hospital for Seamen. Wren’s original designs were completed by the architect Sir John Vanbrugh.
Robert Griffier painted at least three views of Greenwich, each from the same viewpoint. The only dated version of 1729 is at Belton House in Lincolnshire, a National Trust property. By the early nineteenth century, this site had been developed into the West India Docks - a critical hub for Britain’s global shipping trade. Today, Maritime Greenwich is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and remains an important centre for international business.
About the artist
Robert Griffier was the son of Dutch landscape painter and engraver Jan Griffier senior (c.1645-1718), who moved to England in about 1672. Robert and his brother, Jan (c.1686-c.1750), both painted in the style of their father and enjoyed particular popularity during the 1730s and ‘40s. In 1753, some 35 years after his father’s death, Robert was sued by his mother, Mary, who claimed to have lent him £100 in 1731 to establish himself as a victualler (innkeeper). His most important work is now considered to be ‘Regatta on the Thames’ (1748; collection of the Duke of Buccleuch), which demonstrates the influence of Canaletto on his work.
- England, London, Greenwich: Queen's House, Greenwich: Royal Observatory, Greenwich: Greenwich Hospital, St. Paul's Cathedral, Greenwich
- horseback, topography, townscape/cityscape, cow, dog, horse, deer, river, hill, valley, forest, woodland, man, woman, musket, house, church, spire, dome, tower, ship
- Oil on canvas
- height: 60.50 cm, width: 137.00 cm
- Purchased July 1947
- GAC number