This view of ‘The Club Houses etc, Pall Mall’ by Thomas Shotter Boys was published in 1842 as part of ‘Original Views of London As It Is’, his most successful volume. The volume included ‘Historical and Descriptive Notices of the Views’, written by the publisher, writer and editor Charles Ollier (1788-1859). Ollier’s text on this image begins:
‘Even in its old condition, thirty or forty years ago, Pall Mall was a stately, aristocratical-looking street. The eastern extremity of it, to be sure, was choked by a narrow outlet, and bordered with filthy alleys, inhabited by abandoned characters; but Carlton House, with all its splendour, was close at hand; and as the passenger walked towards the west, he came upon private mansions fit for the residence of the wealthy and the noble. In memorable associations moreover, the place was rich. St. James’s Palace, Marlborough House, the Shakspeare [sic] Gallery, Carlton House…, and the mysterious Red House, were sufficient to render the spot interesting; not to mention that it was in this street that Nell Gwynne, who, in spite of her levity, was a kind-hearted creature, lived while she was in favour at court, and died.’
Thomas Shotter Boys was born in Pentonville, North London. He was apprenticed to engraver George Cook, before moving to Paris during the 1820s. There he met Richard Parkes Bonington, with whom he worked. He returned to England in 1837 and initially engraved the designs of other artists and contributed to publications. In 1839, Boys produced his own publication, ‘Picturesque Architecture in Paris, Ghent and Antwerp’, the first English book with lithographic plates entirely in colour. He was elected a member of the New Water Colour Society in 1841 and in the following year published ‘Original Views of London As It Is’. Boys spent the last 20 years of his life teaching drawing and working as a lithographer. He died aged 71 in St John's Wood.
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