A View of the Palace at Kew, from the Lawn

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    Fashionably dressed men and women enjoy the gardens in front of Kew Palace, while sheep also graze or lie on the grass. This engraving is plate 36 of the publication celebrating architect Sir William Chambers's achievement at Kew Gardens, one of the most sumptuous folios ever produced on a single garden: ‘Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Perspective Views of the Gardens and Buildings at Kew in Surry [sic]’ (1763). The work is dedicated to Princess Augusta and was paid for by George III. Alongside Robert Adam (1728-1792), Chambers was made Architect of the King’s Works. In this position he was responsible for the layout of Kew Gardens in Surrey and designed several constructions at Kew such as the Orangery and the Pagoda. This image was also published in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ in 1763.

  • About the artist
    Painter, draughtsman, engraver and watercolourist John Joshua Kirby was born in Parnham, Suffolk; the son of an antique dealer. He initially painted carriages and buildings in Ipswich. However, after meeting Gainsborough, who probably encouraged him as an artist, he began to paint landscapes, publishing a series of landscape etchings in 1748. After studying perspective at the St Martin’s Lane Academy, he became Teacher of Architectural Drawing to the Prince of Wales (later George III). George III later employed him at Kew Palace. Kirby published a treatise on architectural perspective (1761). He was a member of the Free Society and Society of Artists and exhibited his work with both institutions from 1761 to 1771. He died in Kew, aged 58.
    William Woollett was the son of an innkeeper, from Maidstone, Kent. In 1750 he was apprenticed to John Tinney at the Goldsmith’s Company. By 1759, he was studying at St Martin’s Lane Academy. Three years later he married Hannah but, after their five children died in infancy, Hannah also died in 1770. Woollett was later remarried to Elizabeth. His earliest prints are of country houses and gardens, after his own designs. He was first employed by John Boydell in 1760. His engraving after Richard Wilson’s ‘The Destruction of the Children of Niobe’ won him considerable critical acclaim and, as a result, Alan Ramsay invited him to engrave his portrait of George III. Woollett reportedly died ‘from the effect of an accident, unskilfully treated’.
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  • Details
    A View of the Palace at Kew, from the Lawn
    Coloured engraving
    height: 39.20 cm, width: 53.80 cm
    Purchased from Frank T Sabin, October 1963
    behind Jos: Kirby lettering is inscription in ink, "I. [illegible] P. delin.
    GAC number