A view of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich by John Bowles

A view of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich

John Bowles

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Product details A view of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich

A view of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich

John Bowles

A hand-coloured print of the Royal Hospital from the River Thames with sailing ships, barges, and rowing boats on the water. The publication line states it to have been 'printed for John Bowles - at No. 13 in Cornhill & Carington Bowles in St Pauls Church Yard, London' and the titling in both English and French shows both the wide currency of this sort of view (French being the international language of polite society at the time) and the importance of the Hospital as a national monument of specialist charitable welfare provision in an era generally lacking it . Like many such prints this one is partly based on previous 'perspective views' (i.e. printed 'artists' impressions') going back to well before the the whole complex was finished in 1751. Telling details that demonstrate this include the strange 'wall' with a central opening which divides the Upper from the Lower Grand Square. This is a misreading of a much earlier print showing unexecuted arrangements to accommodate the rise in ground to the Upper Square. The step arrangements below the domes are also derived from earlier prints and not as executed. The image however correctly shows only the eastern pediment of the King Charles Court (on the left) to contain a carved typanum, with all three of the others plain. The buildings outside the Hospital perimeter, and the whole projection of the Hospital frontage out into the river (including the watergate stairs) are imaginary and/ or derivative, thougha realistic attempt has been made on the left to represent the series of houses erected by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726), Hospital Surveyor from 1716 to his death, for members of his family at the top of Maze Hill. The small one with the towers may be his own and the only survivor, now Vanbrugh Castle. The shipping on the river is fairly realistic, including a royal yacht on the left, with a tubular canvas ventilator rigged forward and a naval six-oared barge approaching it. There is also a naval hoy in the right foreground. Other craft include passenger wherries and what are probably a couple of anchored colliers on the far right, with some sort of official covered barge (perhaps also naval) centre right. The colouring is mostly watercolour, but with a characteristic use of gouache (bodycolour) for the white and blue tones of the sky and clouds.
John Bowles

Original size: 282 mm x 426 mm

  • Image ref: PY3282
  • National Maritime Museum

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