Many of our artists are inspired by London’s bustling streets and impressive architecture. The iconic buildings and bridges that stretch across the winding river makes the city visually inspiring and unique. Many painters throughout art history have been inspired by London, and their paintings give us a fascinating glimpse into the transformation of the city we know today.
Angela Edwards creates paintings based on images from the media or that she has taken on her phone. She elevates scenes of everyday life and injects them with poignancy.
In Some Day (2018), Edwards’ grey colour palette heightens the feeling of the mundane commute and the urban surroundings. In contrast, the illuminated patches of colour in the figures and the bright red bus give a sense of movement. The viewer feels swept along with the anonymous crowd as we witness the figures from the position of the artist’s camera.
Giovanni Antonio Canal was an Italian painter, better known as Canaletto. He lived in England from 1746-1755, where he produced many paintings of the River Thames and the newly completed Westminster Bridge.
His painting The Thames and the City (1746-47) offers us a fascinating insight into what London looked like in the 1700s. Multiple spires pierce the skyline with St. Pauls Cathedral towering above the city, clearly visible because of the low buildings that surround it (quite the opposite of today’s looming skyscrapers). The Thames is also littered with boats, a common form of transport at that time.
With the Industrial Revolution beginning in England in the 1760s, the railway took over the landscape. The speed of trains and the freedom of travel inspired many artists.
John Crowther created 440 works of London, including View of London showing St Paul's and Canon Street Station from Southwark Bridge (1880s). His enormous collection of works offers us an insight into Victorian London and portrays the development of the city into ‘the big smoke’.
Working in the early 1900s, Claude Monet created numerous Impressionist paintings of The Houses of Parliament or Westminster Bridge. These paintings are highly atmospheric as he tended to paint en plein air (outdoors). Monet was interested in how light differed throughout the day and produced many images of the same place to represent the changing light.