Opening Of Tower Bridge by William Lionel Wyllie


Opening Of Tower Bridge


William Lionel Wyllie

Ref GM246
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size 36" x 20" (90 x 50 cm)
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This beautiful print is a faithful yet romantic portrayal of one of the great state occasions of late Victorian England. The opening of Tower Bridge in June 1894 was a grand display of British imperial might: with the bridge’s bascules uplifted, and an extravagant display of flags and drapery on show, an imposing procession of ships passed through. Those pictured here include the Trinity House yacht Irene, the gunboat HMS Landrail, the Bismarck and the Clacton Bell. The artist was commissioned by The Graphic magazine to record the bridge’s opening for its next issue. Through his close friendship with the bridge’s architect, Sir John Wolfe-Barry, Wyllie secured a seat on HMS Landrail, one of the first ships to be given the privilege of passing through the bridge. He initially produced a black and white drawing for The Graphic; this was soon after developed into the stunning oil on canvas work shown here. This painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1895, and was an immediate success. One reviewer wrote: ‘Mr Wyllie found here all that his heart could desire – the close-packed flotilla of shipping, the race of the mighty river tide, the avenue of unpaintably brilliant and varied flaunting bunting, which led up to the mighty bridge standing white midstream in the westering sunlight...Here was a subject for an historical painter, and in that sense he has conceived and executed it.’ The work is currently in the collections of the National Maritime Museum.