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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

The Royal Exchange

1790 - 1791

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'The Royal Exchange' for The Temple of Taste, no.18, 1 April 1796, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.18, 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 Royal Exchange
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

The Royal Exchange

Charles Taylor’s (1756–1823) engraved view of the Royal Exchange in Cornhill for his periodical The Temple of Taste was published on 1 April 1796. The original drawing has not been traced; however, given the number of signed watercolours for the publication that survive, it is likely that it too was produced by the young apprentice Girtin. At first sight the image seems to be based on the same print by Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804) that Girtin later copied for his patron John Henderson (1764–1843) (TG0871). However, although the two adopt roughly the same oblique view, there are numerous small differences, particularly at the roof level, and it may be that this uncharacteristic street scene was taken from the artist’s own sketch. A similar, earlier view by Thomas Bowles (c.1712–67), showing the building in a more extensive context, likewise differs sufficiently in its details that it was also not the ultimate source for the engraving (British Museum, London (1880,1113.3693)).

The second Royal Exchange was opened to merchants in 1669 to a design by Edward Jerman (active 1633–68) after the earlier building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666). In the text accompanying the engraving, Taylor praised the building both for its architecture, describing ‘the grandeur of the edifice’ as resembling a ‘princely pile’, and for the way that this monument to ‘the majesty of commerce’ housed a ‘concourse of all the various nations of the world’, united by trade. The building, which was richly adorned with statuary commemorating the royal and private encouragement given to trade, was again destroyed by fire in 1838.

1795 - 1796

London: The Royal Exchange


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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