View of Queen Square
About the work
In this ‘View of Queen Square’, in Bloomsbury, London, Edward Dayes places a fashionably attired group in the center foreground of the composition. The group has been accosted: a young boy holds out a cap or purse to them, while a woman to their right holds up what may be foliage or a figurine or doll, in the hope of making a sale. Elsewhere in the square, people go about their daily business. Dating from around the 1780s, this aquatint shows the buildings on either side of Queen’s Square and, in the distance, open fields with Highgate and Hampstead beyond.
This is one of a series of four aquatints showing views of newly rebuilt London squares, originally painted in watercolour by Edward Dayes. (The others depict Hanover Square, Grosvenor Square and Bloomsbury Square.) The watercolours were engraved by Robert Dodd, who was also known for his marine paintings. Dodd worked chiefly with engraver and printseller Robert Pollard, who published this series in two parts in 1787 and 1789. Pollard also published engravings after two interior views by Dayes in 1789, one showing the trial of Warren Hastings and a second showing the thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s for King George III’s recovery from madness.
About the artist
Edward Dayes was born in London and apprenticed to mezzotinter and painter William Pether. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1786. During his early career he worked as a miniaturist, later concentrating on the topographical landscapes in watercolour for which he is best-known. Thomas Girtin was a pupil of Dayes’ until an argument between the two seems to have led to Girtin’s imprisonment. Although not a pupil, J. M. W. Turner also studied Dayes’s work and some watercolours by Turner from the 1790s are virtually indistinguishable from those of Dayes. Towards the end of his career, Dayes began working in oils with less success. He was known as a difficult character with a fiery temper and committed suicide in London in 1804.