View of Queen Square
About the work
Place: Foreign. Commonwealth & Development Office, Carlton Gardens
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
Robert Pollard was born in Newcastle and apprenticed to a watchmaker. He moved to London in 1774 and trained under painter R. Wilson and engraver I. Taylor. By 1781 he had settled in Islington, where he set up as an engraver and publisher. His earliest prints were views of naval actions. Pollard frequently worked with engravers R. Dodd and N. Pocock and sometimes published his own designs. Many of his prints combine different methods of engraving, although aquatint was often added by a specialist. In 1789 he was elected Director of the Incorporated Society of Artists. Pollard moved to Lower Holloway in 1810, selling his print stock, but there he began publishing sporting views, mostly designed by his son James (1792-1867). He died aged 83.
Robert Dodd was the son of Alexander Dodd, of whom little is known. Robert began his career in London as a landscape painter, but later turned to marine scenes. By 1772, the year he married Mary Fulton, he was living in Wapping, east London. He first showed his work at the Society of Artists in 1780 and, in 1782, began exhibiting at the Royal Academy. Many of his paintings depict battles of the French Revolutionary Wars or the American War of Independence. He also painted ship portraits and scenes of the River Thames and of London’s naval dockyards. From about 1783, he engraved and published aquatints after his own works. Towards the end of his life, Dodd lived near Commercial Street in east London. He died at about the age of 67.
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.