The clerks and officers of the Board of Trade are hard at work in an office situated in the northern part of the Treasury building on the corner of Downing Street and Whitehall. The room was part of the original Palace of Westminster which escaped the fire. It later formed part of the home of James and Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Monmouth and Buccleuch, and may have been their bedchamber. Although not visible in this image, the initials of the Duke and Duchess, ‘JAMB’, were included in the richly ornamented ceiling, below a ducal coronet. The Board of Trade building was later remodelled by the architect Sir John Soane and then by Sir Charles Barry. The elaborate ceiling of the room no longer survives and it is doubtful whether the room itself has survived the numerous alterations to the building since this work was made.
This engraving is taken from ‘The Microcosm of London’, published in three volumes by Rudolf Ackermann between 1808 and 1811. The text was written by the artist and writer William Pyne and the volumes were illustrated with 104 hand-coloured aquatint plates after works by Pyne, Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin.
Thomas Rowlandson, caricaturist and draughtsman, attended the Royal Academy Schools. After his studies he worked in watercolours and developed a style influenced by Gainsborough and French Rococo art. From 1784 he received commissions for publications and later gained the patronage of the Prince of Wales. He also produced satirical images, illustrating well-known scandals and characters. Despite gaining a substantial inheritance in 1789, by 1793 he was in poverty. However, his financial worries eased when he received commissions from Ackermann, which led to his involvement with A. C. Pugin in ‘The Microcosm of London’. Rowlandson later produced sketches for the adventures of ‘Dr Syntax’ (1812-21), also published by Ackermann.
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