The Thames with Montagu House and Westminster Bridge

The Thames with Montagu House and Westminster Bridge

undated
Samuel Scott
Watercolor, graphite, pen and black ink and gouache on medium, slightly textured, beige laid paper with medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper border, mounted on linen, backed with medium, slightly textured, blue laid paper
Sheet: 15 3/4 x 35 inches (40 x 88.9 cm)

Although Samuel Scott produced a number of paintings of Westminster Bridge and the grand houses adjacent to it on the west bank of the Thames (the river runs north at that point), none correspond exactly to this composition. Prominent at right are the mansions built on the site of the former Palace of Whitehall, including the white summer house of Joshua Smith and, behind it, the imposing facade of Montagu House. This view is taken from the terrace adjoining the houses of Jane, Countess of Portland, and Andrew Stone, who in 1761 would be appointed Treasurer of the Queen’s Household. On the river are a number of small vessels including a ferry, a barge carrying bales, and a boat from which figures are fishing. The last is a ubiquitous feature of Scott’s views: in the eighteenth century, herring, flounder, salmon, and sturgeon were all sourced from the Thames. Even a working drawing, then, proves Scott’s interest in the Thames as a zone of intersection between commerce, labor, and refinement, with the neoclassical form of Westminster Bridge providing a point of focus and a frame.

B2009.5.1
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, in honor of John Baskett