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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

The Bank of England

1790 - 1791

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'The Bank of England' for The Temple of Taste, no.16, 1 February 1796, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.31, 1820. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (Public Domain)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Bank of England
1790 - 1791
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print

About this Work

John Peltro (1760–1808), etching, 'View of the Bank of England' for <i>The New, Complete, and Universal History, Description and Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster</i>, 1784, 20.3 × 30.6 cm, 8 × 12 in. British Museum, London (1874,0110.255).

Charles Taylor’s (1756–1823) engraved view of the Threadneedle Street facade of the Bank of England for his periodical The Temple of Taste was published on 1 February 1796 (see the print after, above). The original drawing has not been traced, but, given the number of signed drawings that exist for the publication, it is likely that it too was produced by the young apprentice Girtin. It is possible that the idealised view of the extended facade, which could not have been seen uninterrupted in this way, was copied after the work of another artist. No source has been found and it may be that the front-on view was adapted from an image taken from the oblique angle that the enclosed site demanded, as in John Peltro’s (1760–1808) print from 1784 (see figure 1). It would therefore have been the job of the young artist to take a view of the new wing of the structure and reintroduce the symmetrical balance of the architectural elevation.

Taylor’s text which accompanies the engraving sets out the complex history of the Bank’s buildings, all of which have long since been replaced. At the centre of the composition is the oldest part of the building, a seven-bay structure that was completed in 1733 to the designs of George Sampson (active 1718–59). The next architect of the bank, Sir Robert Taylor (1714–88), added the wing to the east with its blind walls and subsequently a second symmetrical wing to the west following the Gordon Riots in 1780. The bank, keen to extend the building, gained permission to demolish the church of St Christopher-le-Stocks, using concerns about security as a pretext. The church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723), is visible in a later Girtin watercolour that was copied from a print by Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804) that was made before its demolition (TG1466).

1795 - 1796

London: The Bank from the Mansion House, with St Christopher-le-Stocks


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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