City of Bath
Colour aquatintpublished March 1826
About the work
Bath in Somerset is viewed here between a background of rolling hills and a foreground of vegetation and fields of grazing cattle. The city itself is dominated by Bath’s grand terraces of residential buildings. To the right of the composition, the east front of the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, more commonly known as Bath Abbey, can be seen. By the early 19th century, Bath was one of the largest cities in Britain, its population already having reached 40,020 by 1801.
About the artist
John Clark, watercolourist and aquatint engraver, specialised in topographical, sporting and marine views. He remains something of a mystery today as virtually nothing is known of his life. This may be partly the result of his not uncommon name. Clark toured Scotland during the summer of 1823, making sketches for his series of aquatint prints ‘Views in Scotland’ (published in parts in 1824-25, under the patronage of George IV). Other works apparently in the same hand and presumed to be by John Clark are alternately signed ‘J. Clark’ and ‘I. Clark’. To further complicate matters, Clark’s work has frequently been confused with that of John Heaviside Clark (c.1771-1863), an engraver and painter of landscapes and seascapes, born in Scotland.
Robert Havell senior, son of artist and publisher Daniel Havell, was born in Reading but moved to London as a child. After Robert launched his career, father and son collaborated on illustrations for Henry Salt’s ‘Twenty Four Views Taken in St. Helena’ (1809–10). However, the partnership was short-lived and Robert later established himself at premises in Fitzrovia. He married Lydia Miller Phillips and had a son, Robert junior. Robert junior and his father formed the firm of R. Havell & Son, working on numerous projects including ‘Birds of America’ for John James Audubon. The scale of this project led them to employ 50 additional staff and move to larger premises in Oxford Street. Robert senior died a year after the company expansion.