The Blockhouse at Plymouth was built in c.1545 as part of the maritime defense programmes of Henry VIII. Its purpose was as a defensive strong point, protecting the mouth of the River Tamar and the town of Stonehouse (now amalgamated into Plymouth) against attack.
This is the third of a series of engravings titled ‘Five Views of and from Mount Edgcumbe, Plymouth’, published in 1755. The prints are based on a series of paintings by George Lambert, which were produced at the painter’s studio-home in the Piazza at Covent Garden in London. It is thought that the figures were added to the landscapes by painter Samuel Scott. The series may have been commissioned by politician Richard, first Baron Edgcumbe or his son (also Richard), who served as Lord of the Admiralty in 1755-56. They were certainly owned by the family and were displayed at their home in Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair.
In 1757 Lambert advertised the set of engravings in the ‘London Evening Post’. The paintings were later transferred to the Edgcumbe’s country estate, Mount Edgcumbe in south-east Cornwall, where they were destroyed when Mount Edgcumbe House was gutted by fire during the Blitz.
George Lambert, theatre scene and landscape painter, divided his career equally between the two professions. For most of his life he lived in Covent Garden. His early style of the 1720s is similar to that of John Wootton. However, his later classical landscapes earned him the accolade ‘the English Poussin’. Lambert painted the landscape backgrounds for William Hogarth’s paintings ‘The Pool of Bethesda’ and ‘The Good Samaritan’, made for St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (1736-37). In 1761 he was elected chairman of the newly founded Society of Artists of Great Britain. The Society received the Royal Seal on 26th January 1765 and just five days later Lambert died at his home in Covent Garden, leaving his possessions to his servant, Ann Terry.
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