Of the several English artists working in the ambit of Canaletto Joseph Nicholls is among the finest. His career is not well documented though he merits a mention in Sir Ellis Waterhouse’s The Dictionary of 18th.century British Painters. Colonel Grant in his Old English Landscape Painters states “there is a delicacy and finesse in his work, unusual in this type” A pair of views of Pope’s Villa and Orleans House are in the Mellon Collection at Yale, and Nicholls’s views of the city were of sufficient fame and quality to be engraved in 1738.
Our view shows the recently constructed Westminster Bridge and to the left the jumble of old mediaeval and Georgian buildings that constituted the Houses of Parliament, centred on the massive roof of Westminster Hall. The row of trees stands where Barry’s neo-Gothic palace would later rise from the river bank. Beyond is the crisp outline of the Abbey dominated by Hawksmoor’s towers, with the tower of St.Margaret’s to the right.