Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Bowles Leicester Square

B. Leizel after Thomas Bowles

Vue de la Place de Leicester a Londres

16.5 x 12.5 inches

An etching in distinctive, original hand colour by Leizel after the drawings of Thomas Bowles and published in Augsburg circa 1750.

This scarce image of Leicester Square is one from a series entitled "Collection des Prospects" that were produced across Europe from the 1740s onwards initially in cities such as Augsburg, Amsterdam and Paris but latterly in London. They are intended as optical views to be appreciated through a mirror and a lens using contrivances called zograscopes or, more simply, view finders. The deliberately bright colours, when seen through the lens, give an almost three dimensional aspect to the scene. In this instance the red of the pavement and the green of the grass are both exaggerated to produce the illusion of depth.

Leicester Square was originally laid out in the 1670s by way of an attractive forecourt to Leicester House that occupied the northern perimeter. Soon fashionable houses were added around the remaining sides and it became a very smart place to live. Initially no shops were permitted but by the 1730s William Hogarth had established himself at number 30 where he produced some of his most famous and well loved work including Marriage a la Mode and The Rake's Progress. In 1760 he was joined by another artist, Joshua Reynolds, who set up his studio at number 47 and remained there until his death in 1792. As we know, Reynolds enjoyed phenomenal commercial and social success with his portraits and his house was quickly extended to include a gallery for his work and a lavish drawing room where his illustrious clients could wait.


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