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London Capriccio

John Varley (1778-1842)


Signed and dated 1830


10 ¾ x 16 ¼ inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show', 2021, No 18

This fascinating image shows John Varley inserting three London landmarks into one of his characteristically luminous riverscapes. In the foreground, the ordinary life of a rural river proceeds undisturbed by a magisterial mirage. On the horizon stand St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and – peaking above the trees to the right – the White Tower of the Tower of London. Varley has portrayed them with the accuracy of a seasoned topographer, but his placing of them disregards both their actual geographical relationship and their relative heights. In reality, St Paul’s Cathedral is much the highest of the three buildings (at 364 feet) and is situated in the City of London, far to the east of Westminster Abbey and closer to the Tower of London.

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