St. Michael’s Mount is a small, steep, rocky island off the south coast of Cornwall, east of Penzance. At low tide it is connected by a causeway to the village of Marazion on the mainland. In 1144, a church was first built on the island by Abbot Bernard and consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter. In 1170 it was granted to the Benedictine monks of Mont Saint-Michel, an island off the coast of Normandy. Building work began on the first stone church in 1135. The Mount was purchased by Colonel St. Aubyn in 1659 and the Aubyn family have lived on the island ever since.
This print of the island is from a series of views by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck. In 1720 the Buck brothers published views or ‘prospects’ of two panoramic drawings of English towns: Leeds and Wakefield. The success of these prints led to a project to produce a further eight town prospects (1720–25). In 1728 they extended the project to record ‘prospects’ of every remaining principal town (in this case an island) of England and Wales. Each was drawn at a rural spot, some distance from the location itself and, when possible, from a height.
Brothers Samuel and Nathaniel Buck were the leading British topographical draughtsmen and engravers of the 18th century. They produced several hundred drawings and engravings, including 87 ‘Prospects’ of England and Wales. The engravings are important visual records of the appearance of British urban landscapes prior to the Industrial Revolution. In many cases, the places depicted have since disappeared or changed beyond recognition. Their dedication in recording almost every corner of the country has left modern viewers with an invaluable record of Britain’s past. As demand for their prints fell away, Nathaniel took over a furniture business, while Samuel tried several professions, including teaching draughtsmanship and cleaning pictures.
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