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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday June 16 2015

Wikipedia, which I assume to be reliable on something so politically uncontroversial, has this to say about the Buck Brothers:

Samuel Buck (1696 – 17 August 1779) and his brother Nathaniel Buck (died 1759/1774) were English engravers and printmakers, best known for their Buck’s Antiquities, depictions of ancient castles and monasteries. Samuel produced much work on his own but when the brothers worked together, they were usually known as the Buck Brothers. More is known about Samuel than Nathaniel.

Samuel Buck was born in Yorkshire in 1696. After publishing some prints in that county he moved to London. With Nathaniel he embarked on making a number of series of prints of “antiquities”, which consisted of ancient castles and former religious buildings in England and Wales.  Starting in 1724, they travelled around these countries, and completed sets of prints for the regions of England by 1738 and for Wales between 1739 and 1742. These are commonly known as Buck’s Antiquities. During this time they also worked on a series of townscapes in England and Wales entitled Cities, Sea-ports and Capital Towns.

I mention these guys because here are their engravings of the Thames in London, seen from the south.  All are worth clicking on.

For the first time ever on the net, here are high quality images of Samuel & Nathaniel Buck’s complete sequence of five views of London as published in 1774.

That “first time ever” was in 2012, but news like this does not date.

Together the originals form a panorama of mid 18th Century London over 4 metres long. They show, in tremendous detail, the whole of the north bank of the Thames, between Westminster and the Tower.

Horizontality!  Each is fairly horizontal to start with, but stitch them together ...

Just how accurate these engravings are of the former times that the Buck Brothers were purporting to recreate, I do not know.  But I assume they give us a pretty good idea of how things were, until such time as aliens show up to reveal to us their tourist snaps from previous visits.

I especially like the last one:

image

I like this for a number of reasons.

First, it shows the spires of old London, and hence how very well the Shard fits into contemporary London.  The Shard is of course the very embodiment of new London, but it also evokes old London, far more that most more recent London architecture.

Second, this shows old London Bridge, with all its buildings.  What fun it would be for London to build itself another such bridge.  One of the reasons I so welcome the new Blackfriars Station, on its bridge, is that it sets a precedent for just such a bridge with buildings some time in the future.  This new Ponte Vecchio on Thames probably shouldn’t be in the middle of London, though, because that would spoil a lot of views.  Why not a big bridge of this sort further downstream?  Any decade now … If it were ever to happen, such a bridge would nicely complement the new Garden Bridge, full of plants, that Joanna Lumley wants to build.  This is going ahead (… ”will” …), apparently.

And the third reason I like the above Buck Brothers panorama is that to the far right, it nicely shows what an imposing edifice the Tower of London used once to be.  Here is the detail I mean:

image

Okay, that big building to the left means that the Tower is not as imposing there as all that.  But it certainly gives you a clue concerning what an imposition it was when it was first imposed (scroll down to the quote there).

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