J. Reeve after C. Wild
Grand Staircase Carlton House
14 x 17 inches
A hand coloured aquatint by Reeve after Wild; published in Pyne's 'History of the Royal Residences' in London, 1819.
There can be very few places as ostentatious in Regency London as the Prince Regent's residence in Pall Mall. George III had given his eldest son the house on the understanding that he paid for all the repairs and upkeep. From 1783 onwards the Prince Regent embarked upon a lavish renovation of the site at an exorbitant cost. He acquired the neighbouring houses then had them demolished to accommodate extravagant new wings. Inside, the most spectacular hallway was created with the graceful staircase that we see in this aquatint. As work progressed and the full scale of the project became apparent opinion was divided between those who thought it splendid (a rival to Versailles!) and those who, quite frankly found it vulgar and totally lacking in taste. Needless to say, the Prince Regent was oblivious to any criticism and hosted a succession of lavish parties and balls at Carlton House including a huge Fête in honour of Wellington in 1814 to which over 2000 guests were invited. Eventually the prince's ambitions exceeded the house's capabilities and he abandoned it in favour of a much larger palace nearby, to be developed on the site of Buckingham House.