The New Houses of Parliament
Colour lithographpublished 1 May 1852
About the work
This view of the newly built Houses of Parliament was published before the construction of the building was absolutely finished, in around 1870, but at around the time work on the Commons Chamber was completed in 1852. In the foreground, the River Thames is busy with activity, as small rowing boats and ships powered by steam or sail travel up and down the river.
About the artist
Landscape lithographer and painter Thomas Picken was the younger brother of draughtsman and lithographer Andrew (1815-1845). The brothers were two of four sons of novelist Andrew Picken (1788-1833) and his wife Janet Coxon (1792-1871). Thomas made lithographs for David Roberts's ‘The Holy Land’ (1842-49), William Payne's ‘The Lake Scenery of England’ (1859), John Parker Lawson's ‘Scotland Delineated’ (1847-54) and other works. He exhibited one painting at the Royal Academy in 1857 and ten at the Society of Artists, Suffolk Street (1846-75). Although generally thought to have emigrated to Australia in 1870, a 2004 entry in the ‘Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’ reports that he was an inmate of the Charterhouse, London, from 1879.
Edmund Walker began as a miniature painter on ivory, abandoning the practice as photography grew in popularity. He then turned to architectural draughtsmanship, making sketches of country seats and selling them to the owners. His views of the Thames Embankment (completed 1870) were exhibited at the Royal Academy, as were many of his architectural drawings. Sometime before 1851 he began working for the publishers Day & Son. He made watercolour views and lithographs of the interiors of the Great Exhibition and lithographed William Simpson’s sketches of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny for the firm. He reportedly ‘never fully recovered’ from the effect of the failing fortunes of Day & Son, late in his career. Walker died in 1882, aged 68.