The West Front of St. Paul’s Covent Garden
Coloured engravingpublished 1 January 1777
About the work
This print shows the west front of St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. The architect of the church, Inigo Jones (1573-1652) is regarded as the first architect in England to introduce the principles of classical architecture to Britain, following in the footsteps of the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Jones’s architectural style distanced itself from the red-brick Tudor style, paving the way for the elegant classical Palladian style. A year-long trip through Italy in the company of the Earl of Arundel between 1613 and 1614 offered the English architect the opportunity to study first-hand the antiquities of Rome as well as the Renaissance villas and churches in the Veneto. Jones felt particularly drawn to Palladio’s style and embraced his theoretical formulations expressed in 'I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura;' of 1570. This print introduces us to one of Jones’s realized projects and the first classical buildings in Britain. In 1630, the third Earl of Bedford entrusted Jones with one of his final projects: the design of the Covent Garden piazza and the church of St Paul’s.
This print is part of a series known as 'Six London Views', made after drawings by Paul (c.1731–1809) and Thomas Sandby (c.1723–1798). The works were first published in 1767–68 by Edward Rooker and were reprinted after his death by Joseph Boydell.
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.
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.