History of the River Thames
John Boydell was, perhaps, the greatest ‘patron-publisher’ of his day. Commissioning work from the famous artists of his time, promoting lesser-known artists, and upholding high standards of engraving against the tide of commercialism, he was able to produce works whose quality sets them apart from the bulk of eighteenth century reproductive engraving.
Amongst the fine colour-plate books which Boydell conceived, the History of the River Thames, published with his nephew Josiah, was one of his greatest successes with seventy-six plates by the renowned aquatint engraver Joseph Sadler after landscapes by Joseph Farrington, RA. Farington was as a well known painter in his time but it is for these careful topographical drawings that he is best remembered. Boydell’s Thames takes us on a journey from Thames Head in Gloucestershire through Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and eventually reaching London where pastoral scenes give way to growing industry and trade as the river widens out and reaches the North Sea.
For some time Boydell himself rode the tide of a flourishing export trade in British prints, and in 1790 his publishing success was complemented by his appointment as Lord Mayor of London. However, within a few years the troubles in France destroyed the export market and his business collapsed; Boydell fought to clear his debts and succeeded in doing so before he died. For several decades he had been the greatest patron of his age, bringing employment and wealth to countless painters, and leaving a legacy of some of the finest topographical and historical engravings of the eighteenth century of which the Thames is one of the best examples.
Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of original antique Boydell engravings available, please do contact us.
Blackfriars Bridge: From Somerset Place with St. Paul’s Cathedral in background. Orginally named William Pitt Bridge, it is known by the nearby site of Blackfriars Monastery. After Joseph Farington.
High Street facing West: With Queen’s College and University College in foreground.After Joseph Farington.
London Bridge: View from the bank of the Thames. Until 1750 it was the only bridge spanning the river. After Joseph Farington.
Richmond: View on the Thames of the town and bridge, After Joesph Farington.
Chelsea: View of Chelsea and part of Battersea from a position southwest of Wimbledon. After Joseph Farington.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire: Panorama from over the River Glynne. After Joseph Farington.
Putney Bridge: View towards the bridge with St Mary’s on the right and All Saints on the left. After Joesph Farington.
Panoramic view of Oxford from the environs. After John Farington.
Lambeth: View from Lambeth of Lambeth Palace and Westminster Bridge. After Joesph Farington.
Broad Street: Looking towards the Clarendon building and Sheldonian Theatre. After John Farington.
Cirencester: View from the environs of the city and St John the Baptist. After Joseph Farington.
Tower of London: View from the River Thames. After Joseph Farington.
Blenheim: View of the Palace from the Thames. After Joseph Farington.
Blenheim, Oxfordshire: View of the palace from the bank of the Thames. AfterJoseph Farington.
Maple Durham: View from the environs of the village, Thames and Hardwicke House. After John Farington.
Eton: View of the school from a distance, with the river in the foreground. After Joseph Farington.
London from Greenwich Park: Spectacular view across the Thames towards St. Paul’s. After Joseph Farington.
Richmond: View down the Thames from Richmond Hill. After Joesph Farington.
Richmond: View of Richmond Hill from Twickenham. After Joesph Farington.
Streatley and Goring on Thames: View of the towns either side of the Thames. After John Farington.
Windsor: View of Windsor bridge looking towards the castle. After Joseph Farington.
Hampton Court: Panoramic view from the Thames. After Joseph Farington.
Chelsea: View of Chelsea and part of Battersea from East Wandsworth. After Joesph Farington.
Millbank: View up the Thames from Millbank towards the yet to be built Regent bridge, later replaced by Vauxhall bridge. After Joesph Farington.
Windsor Castle: Panoramic view from Coopers Hill. After Joseph Farington.
Greenwich: View from the Royal Hospital for Seaman, completed in 1751, towards the Thames with St Paul’s in the distance. After Joseph Farington.
Richmond: View up the Thames from Richmond Hill. After Joesph Farington.
Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire: View of the town and Thames from Nuneham Park. After John Farington.