The Museum of London has acquired an epic 20 feet wide panorama of London

The Museum of London has acquired an epic 20 feet wide panorama of London, painted around 1815 by the French artist Pierre Prévost (1764-1823). It is a remarkable preparatory watercolour for a lost, full-scale 30m diameter panorama which was exhibited in Paris in 1817.

The panorama was acquired at auction at Sotheby’s for £200,000. There is only one other work by this artist of a similar size and quality still in existence, a view of Constantinople, which is in the Louvre.

Painted as the Napoleonic Wars drew to a close, the panorama is an immersive 360° view of London as the Duke of Wellington would have known it. Looking from the tower of St Margaret’s, the church situated within the shadow of Westminster Abbey, we are presented with a sweeping view over a sunlit city. Dominating the foreground is the Abbey and the old Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), which burnt down in 1834, and includes the medieval House of Lords chamber, target of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Prévost made panoramas of many European cities, but this particular example is thought to have been created at the height of his career. His first panorama of London, now lost, was made when he visited the city during the Peace of Amiens in 1802. He is thought to have returned to London in 1815, shortly after the Battle of Waterloo, to create this remarkable image of London.

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