The Museum of London, in July last year, acquired an epic 20 feet wide panorama of London, painted around 1815 by the French artist Pierre Prévost (1764-1823). This beautiful and rare panorama is on display for the first time at the Museum of London this March.
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The panorama has been acquired with the help of Art Fund, the Aldama Foundation and a group of individual donors, with additional support from Michael Spencer, the Leche Trust and other donors who wish to remain anonymous.
In late 1815, as the Napoleonic Wars drew to a close, artist Pierre Prévost took the opportunity to visit London and to create this 360° view painted from St Margaret’s church, in the shadow of Westminster Abbey.
His sweeping vision captures Parliament Square, the old Palace of Westminster, cattle grazing in St James’s Park, Buckingham House, St Martin-in-the-Fields, the unfinished Strand (soon to be renamed Waterloo) Bridge, semi-rural Lambeth, and, above all, St Paul’s dominating the easterly horizon. This view is now lost to history as the old Palace of Westminster, target of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, was burnt down in 1834.
In the early 19th century, panoramas were an extremely popular form of entertainment. These huge 360° landscape paintings gave visitors an immersive experience, placing the viewer into the scene and allowing them to experience it almost first-hand. Prévost’s painting is the study for a 30-metre diameter panorama, now lost, displayed in Paris in 1817.
Francis Marshall, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Museum of London, said: “We’re incredibly excited to be able to display this beautiful panorama for all to see. It captures a moment in time and reveals a captivating history of London. It’s a fantastic addition to our art collection and we are hugely grateful to Art Fund and others for supporting us in this unique acquisition.”
Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund said: “The Museum of London’s brilliant success in acquiring Pierre Prevost’s epic image of lost London was the result of lightning fundraising campaign, of which Art Fund was proud to be part. Our congratulations to the Museum and our deep thanks to the donors who ensured this important panorama will be seen and enjoyed for generations to come.”
Exhibition is free.