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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

The Oxford Street Facade of the Pantheon

1790 - 1791

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'Front of the Pantheon, Oxford Street' for The Temple of Taste, no.5, 1 March 1795, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.16, 1820. British Museum, London (1880,1113.4480).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Oxford Street Facade of the Pantheon
1790 - 1791
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print

About this Work

The original drawing for this engraving for The Temple of Taste, published by Charles Taylor (1756–1823), has not been identified, but, although the print itself does not sport Girtin’s name, it is probable that he was responsible for supplying the engraver with an image to copy. The text included by Taylor alongside the prints provides evidence about the dating of the drawings to several years before their publication, in this case on 1 March 1795. It notes that ‘our view of the front is in its former state; being taken before the fire’, which ‘burnt in the night of January 14, 1792’, though of course that might refer to the source from which an intermediary drawing was taken.

The Pantheon, as Taylor noted, was built as the grandest of ‘our places of public entertainment’ at a cost of £60,000 to the designs of an ‘architect of eminence’, James Wyatt (1746–1813). The building was opened in 1772 as a ‘fashionable resort for the politest company’, who frequented its concerts and masquerades, but prior to the fire it was fitted up as an opera house. We get an idea of why the prints were not specifically attributed to an artist from the text, which consistently emphasises the pre-eminent importance Taylor placed on the role of the images as idealised records of the architecture. Not only did he include a view that does not contain any of the changes to the building made after the fire but he also instructed the artist to raise up the ‘cupola in the centre … above its true height’ in order to show this part of the building as it would have been seen from a greater distance since this was its main distinguishing architectural feature.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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