The Welch Bridge at Shrewsbury
About the work
The Welsh Bridge in the town of Shrewsbury connects the district of Frankwell with the town centre. The aquatint print of the old Welsh Bridge looks towards Frankwell from the town. The bridge supports a battlemented gatehouse with a round tower at the right corner and a half-timbered house. Several boats can be seen on the river, while a man mends a fishing net in the foreground, as a woman and child carrying baskets walk past.
The Welsh Bridge was a favourite subject of artist Paul Sandby. An engraving after his view of ‘The Welch [sic] Bridge at Shrewsbury’ was published a year before this work in 1777, having previously appeared in ‘Copper Plate Magazine’. There is also a Sandby drawing of the bridge, dated c.1800, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is similar to this aquatint and which may have been made as an exhibition piece. A further example, dated 1772, is in the collection at the Yale Center for British Art and Sandby’s watercolour view from the opposite end of the bridge is held at the British Museum. Despite the old Welsh Bridge being razed in 1782 and a new bridge being constructed on the site in the 1790s, Sandby continued to depict it until 1806.
About the artist
Paul Sandby was born in Nottingham. He was a painter, printmaker, draughtsman and drawing master, who made an important contribution to the development of British watercolour painting. He was taught by his elder brother Thomas Sandby (c.1723–1798), architect and draughtsman, and followed Thomas in finding employment with the Board of Ordnance. In 1747 Sandby was appointed official draughtsman to the military survey of the Scottish Highlands, following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. He continued his work in a similar capacity when employed to record military encampments in London, established following the Gordon Riots of 1780. He also held the post of chief drawing master at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich from 1768 to 1796. Sandby was a central figure in the establishment of the Society of Artists in 1761 and, like his brother Thomas, a founding member of the Royal Academy. Today, he is best-known for his numerous views of Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park, executed over a period of some 50 years. Little is known of the early life of Edward Rooker. He was a pupil of engraver Henry Roberts, based in High Holborn, while he simultaneously pursued a career in acting. Between 1748 and 1749, he engraved three complex drawings after designs by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. He also appeared on the stage at the New Wells Theatre, London, in 1749 and, by 1752, had joined the company at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he remained for 22 years. Rooker’s career as an engraver continued with a print of a sectional view of St Paul’s Cathedral (1755) and works for publications, including plates for William Chambers’ Designs of Chinese Buildings (1757) and James Stuart’s 'Antiquities of Athens' (1762). He collaborated with Paul and Thomas Sandby on 'Six London Views', and again with Thomas for a series of illustrations to Tasso’s 'Jerusalem Delivered'. Rooker died unexpectedly in 1774, after inviting friends to supper at his home in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, probably to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Paul Sandby (1731 - 1809)
- The Welch Bridge at Shrewsbury
- published 1 November 1778
- Colour aquatint
- Purchased from Frank T Sabin, June 1963
- GAC number