Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich was intended to home retired and disabled naval officers and the founding charter stated its purpose as:
‘The reliefe and support of Seamen serving on board the Shipps or Vessells belonging to the Navy Royall… who by reasons of Age, Wounds or other disabilities shall be uncapable of further service…’
The idea for the hospital had initially come from James II, but was taken up and championed by Queen Mary. Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) was called in to design the scheme and was so enthusiastic for the project that he did not charge a fee for his work. He was assisted by the Hospital Clerk of Works, Nicholas Hawksmoor (c.1661-1736).
An unfinished wing of the King’s Palace, which had been designed by John Webb (1611–1672) and built between 1664 and 1669, was used as the cornerstone of the building to the right of the composition. At the Queen’s request the existing Queen’s House, designed by Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and built from 1616, became the focal point of the scheme (seen in the very centre of the composition).
A view of Greenwich Hospital from the river was painted by Canaletto (1697–1768) in c.1752, some 16 years after this print was published.
Jacques Rigaud, a French draughtsman and etcher, mainly of landscapes and topographical views, made numerous drawings of gardens in his home country. Sometime in the 1730s he visited England and found work drawing views of parks and country estates. Rigaud was commissioned by Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington to make a series of views of the gardens of Chiswick House. However, following a disagreement with Burlington, the drawings were never published. Charles Bridgeman, Royal Gardener at Stowe, later commissioned 16 views of the gardens he had designed at Stowe for a series of plates. The project cost Bridgeman £1,300 but the garden designer died before Rigaud’s prints were published under the direction of Bridgeman’s widow, Sarah.
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