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Posts Tagged ‘Somerset House’

This show has been on at Somerset House for a while now and has just over a month to run. It comprises large scale black and white photographs of Hawksmoor’s London churches. These are complemented with models of their towers or facades suspended on wires from the ceiling.

The exhibition curated by Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Design. It features the work of architectural photographer Hélène Binet. Using digital plans, the models were made from resin.

Nicholas Hawksmoor (c.1661–1736) was the brilliant protege of Christopher Wren, most of whose London churches have survived.

They are beautifully and simply presented in this exhibition: the approach is wholly successful. Recommended.

nicholas hawksmoor

nicholas hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor:  Methodical Imaginings runs until 2 September at Somerset House. Entrance in free.

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Yesterday a group of London Historians and friends went for an excellent historical mosey from the Embankment past Blackfriars, over the Wobbly Bridge (known by a few as the Millennium Bridge) into Southwark and the extremely popular Anchor pub. We were led by the excellent author, Blue Badge guide and true gentleman, Brian Cookson, a friend of London Historians who has encouraged us from the outset, not least by writing some superb articles on London’s bridges.

The sun was out, the tide was high. Dozens of packed pleasure craft plied their trade up and down our great river. The Embankment bustled with happy Londoners and tourists. We met at Temple tube station and headed west through Embankment Gardens, taking in Somerset House, the York Watergate, the Savoy. Through Embankment station we doubled back along the river bank past Cleopatra’s Needle, under Waterloo Bridge. The Blackfriars station redevlopment forced us to detour “inland” a bit taking in the Unilever building, the art-deco Blackfriar pub. Over the Wobbly Bridge we went, checking out Shakespeare’s Globe until we reached the Anchor pub.

And there most of us remained for the next three hours and more, happily downing away, the smokers in particular grateful for the fine conditions. This is the part of London Historians events that I enjoy the most: socialising with like-minded historians and making new friends. Everyone has their own particular interests, specialities. I love finding out what other historians are doing, what turns them on. When starting London Historians, this is exactly what we wanted it to be all about. Long may it continue.

So do look out for further London Historians events on our web site.

london historians thames walk

london historians thames walk

York Watergate marks the former position of the water's edge prior to embankment by Bazalgette.

london historians thames walk

The Art Nouveau Blackfriar pub

london historians thames walk

london historians thames walk

Brian Cookson

london historians thames walk

Sundowners. Earned.

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Or Victorian. He straddled the border. A few months ago when rooting about for a suitable image to put on our members’ cards, after a few false starts, I came across just the thing. A view of the Thames and Somerset House from the west by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1792 – 1864). Because it featured lots of sky, it enabled me to incorporate London Historians logo without interfering with the image unduly. The picture is listed on the Internet as having been painted in 1817, and you’ll notice the Thames is not yet embanked, something Joseph Bazalgette famously undertook some 50 years later. I think you’ll agree, it’s a fine picture.

thomas hosmer shepherd

Somerset House by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, 1817

So who was Thomas Hosmer Shepherd? As you can see, his Wikipedia entry is not much more than a stub. Using my new DNB subscription, I turned there, only to find him mentioned just the once and in passing, with relation to his brother, who was seemingly more Important.

And yet there are quite a few examples of his work knocking around the web. I like them very much, both aesthetically and as great references of London’s buildings and streets during the Victorian period. What I have been able to find out is that Shepherd was mainly a watercolourist and that rather than being an exhibiting or commercial painter, he appears to have been commissioned as an architectural illustrator, many of his paintings being turned into engravings for reference books of pretty buildings. You can buy these on places like abebooks.com for up to £1,500 for first editions, or very cheaply for reissues that were printed in the 1970s. So we know that someone was on the Thomas Holmer Shepherd case relatively recently.

So like Erasmus Bond, whom I wrote about recently, Shepherd is undeservedly obscure, in my view. But I suspect we may find out more about him more easily than the mysterious Mr Bond. If you know anything, please do get in touch. Meantime, here are a few more of Shepherd’s lovely pictures.

st james's palace by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

St James's Palace

westminster abbey

Westminster Abbey

marlborough house by thomas hosmer shepherd

Marlborough House

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