Books shows Parliament rise from fire

Views of of the new Houses of Parliament as it was rebuilt following the devastating fire of 1834 are captured within a stunning historical book coming up for sale in New York soon.

Thomas Shotter Boys' Original View of London As It IsSwann Auction Galleries is selling a deluxe issue of Thomas Shotter Boys’ Original View of London As It Is, offered with an estimate of up to £6000 ($7,500), which includes 26 hand-coloured lithographs and a view of Westminster from Waterloo Bridge.

The view is historically important because it shows the early stages of the construction of the new Houses of Parliament, as designed by Sir Charles Barry, following the 1834 fire which destroyed much of the earlier structure.

Swann Auction Galleries will offer the issue in its original state at their December 8th sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books.

Construction on the new palace had begun only two years before Boys (1803-74) painted this view. In the central distance, against the backdrop of Westminster Abbey, with Westminster Bridge in the foreground, it is possible to see Westminster Hall, built in 1097, which survived the blaze and remains standing today.

The clocktower – renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 – housing Big Ben, was not completed for another 17 years, while the finishing touches to the famous Gothic Revival river frontage and interiors took place in 1870.

The wharf and buildings to the left of the picture have since been replaced by County Hall, which housed the old GLC, the South Bank Centre, including the Royal Festival Hall, and, of course, the Millennium wheel which now dominates this stretch of the Thames.

Just visible atop what was then a brewery is the South Bank Lion, which survived the changes and now stands facing the other way on the south side of Westminster Bridge.

To the right of the picture is the view of the Thames prior to the construction of the Embankment, which started in 1862, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as he introduced the capital’s new sewage system.

“This is just one view that captures a fascinating picture of London on the cusp of momentous change,” said specialist Caleb Kiffer. “The accomplishment of Shotter Boys’ draughtsmanship and artistry are a marvel in themselves, but the historical importance of what he painted here makes them all the more significant.”

This is only the third copy of the deluxe issue of Thomas Shotter Boys’s Original Views of London As It Is to come to auction in the last fifty years. The current copy is one of the finest lithographed plate book on nineteenth century London at a time when good pictorial records were few.

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