Westminster Bridge by Moonlight

Henry Pether

Oil on canvas

  • About the work
    Country: Other
    City: other locations abroad

    This night view is dominated by the structure of Westminster Bridge. A Thames barge glides under an arch, while numerous people, on foot or in carriages, cross the bridge above. To the right we see part of the Houses of Parliament. In the background, Lambeth Palace, St Mary's Church and Lambeth Bridge can all be seen.

    A late work by Henry Pether, this is a typical example of the artist's moonlit scenes of the Thames, a subject which he painted frequently. Like the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge had only recently been completed when this picture was painted. Following the almost complete destruction of the historic Palace of Westminster in the disastrous fire of 1834, the new Houses of Parliament were designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin in 1835 and built between 1840 and 1860. The new Westminster Bridge, replacing a former mid-18th-century bridge, was erected between 1854 and 1862 to the designs of the engineer, Thomas Page.

  • About the artist
    Henry Pether was from a family of painters, who specialised in moonlit scenes; the most famous being his father, Abraham. He exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy (1828-62), Society of British Artists (1833/4, 1855) and British Institution (1865). He lived at addresses in Southampton, Greenwich, Camden Town and south London, probably moving to escape creditors. In 1837, when an inmate of a debtor’s prison, he was described as ‘Surveyor, Artist, Engineer, and Architect’. He applied for patents relating to mosaic tiles, a lamp globe and other architectural materials (1839-76). The tiles were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851. At that time he lived in Kennington with his wife, Sarah, and children Fanny (14), Harry (10) and Kate (9).
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  • Details
    Westminster Bridge by Moonlight
    Oil on canvas
    height: 61.50 cm, width: 91.50 cm
    Purchased from Oscar & Peter Johnson, March 1967
    GAC number