Elizabethan London skyline revisited

What a difference 400 years makes: the London skyline 1616 v 2016

Fifty years before the centre of London was destroyed by the Great Fire, Dutch draughtsman Claes Jansz Visscher’s captured it in his 1616 engraving, View of London – a low-rise cityscape dominated by church spires and steeples.

Now the artist Robin Reynolds has updated that classic view for the present day, recreating Visscher’s perspective as closely as possible, but detailing the London riverside of 2016.

Of course much has changed, and not just all the concrete and glass. Sir Christopher Wren’s 1710 St Paul’s Cathedral replaces the old cathedral gutted in the fire. There is still a river crossing called London Bridge in the same place as the medieval version – but it is no longer lined with houses and shops, and lacks the severed heads of traitors seen on spikes above the southern gatehouse shown in Visscher’s engraving. The 1990s reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre can be seen on the South Bank, a few hundreds metres from the site of the original.

Visscher completed his 6ft engraving in the year of Shakespeare’s death, and to mark that 400th anniversary, Reynolds’s new drawing includes references to the bard’s 37 plays, three poems and various sonnets.

The exhibition Visscher Redrawn is at London’s Guildhall art gallery until 20 November


City of LondonSt PaulsLondon BridgeEmbankment

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Posted by on March 3, 2016, With 1399 Reads Filed under Of Interest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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One Response to "Elizabethan London skyline revisited"

  1. Altimometer  March 3, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    The new high rises would be better suited in a special district because they harm the historic areas’ quaintness. What’s done is done though.

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