17 x 12 inches
This is an intriguingly early view of the pleasure gardens at Vauxhall that were later to become such a popular, albeit notorious, mainstay of Regency life in London. It predates a lot of the construction work that went on towards the latter half of the C18th so what we see here are the most extraordinary hedges, pleasant promenades and elaborate water features. The pagodas, pavilions, music room and supper boxes were all still to come. Here we have a garden where one might, as the diarist Samuel Pepys commented, "hear the nightingale and other birds".
The gardens dated from as early as the 1660s when the Restoration of King Charles II ushered in a new age of entertainment and hedonism. After years of puritan oppression London was ready to party and Vauxhall soon became the ideal location. Pepys was a frequent visitor to the gardens but it was not just the birds that caught his attention. As a keen observer of human nature and a lover of scandal he noted that even early on there were shenanigans in the shrubberies: "How rude some of the young gallants of the town have become, to go into people's arbours where there are not men and almost force the women...". There is no hint of impropriety in this image; all we see are immaculate topiary and a succession of fashionably dressed people parading through the grounds.
One of the increasingly popular Vues d'Optique that were published across Europe in the latter half of the C18th.