Covent Garden Piazza
Coloured engravingpublished 20 February 1768
About the work
Covent Garden is seen here from the south east side of the colonnade, populated by several figures: at the right a woman sells her wares (perhaps apples), a pair of shoe-shiners wait for customers, a gentleman and lady walk beneath the colonnade on the left, a boy plays with a hoop and two boys play marbles in the foreground to left. Others figures lean against the wooden railings and, in the centre of the square, several people sell goods from large baskets.
This view is taken from engraver Edward Rooker's series ‘Six Views of London’. Rooker originally published the engravings himself in 1767–68, although the engraver and printseller John Boydell (1720-1804) re-issued the prints in 1777 after Rooker’s death, adding a seventh view of the Admiralty. Five of the original six views were made after drawings by architect and draughtsman Thomas Sandby and his younger brother Paul (c.1731-1809) a painter and engraver. The sixth (a view of ‘The Horse Guards’) was after a work by Rooker’s son Michael (1746-1801).
About the artist
Little is known of the early life of Edward Rooker. He was a pupil of engraver Henry Roberts, in High Holborn, while simultaneously pursuing a career in acting. Between 1748 and 1749, he engraved drawings after designs by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. He appeared on stage at the New Wells Theatre in 1749 and, by 1752, had joined the company at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His career as an engraver continued with 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 illustrations to Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered’. He died unexpectedly, at around the time of 50th birthday.
Thomas Sandby was born in Nottingham. He moved to London in 1741 to become a draughtsman for the Board of Ordnance. In this capacity he accompanied the Duke of Cumberland on military campaigns in Scotland and the Netherlands in the mid 1740s. The Duke was Ranger of Windsor Great Park. Sandby became his Steward in 1764 and later Deputy Ranger. He designed several buildings in the Park and was involved with the development of Virginia Water. He lived in Windsor during the late 1750s but moved to London in 1760, returning to Windsor in 1765. He was a founder member of the Royal Academy in 1768 and its first Professor of Architecture. In 1777 he became Architect of the King’s Works and, in 1780, Master Carpenter in the Office of Works.