Two dons stand on Castle Hill admiring a panorama of Cambridge arrayed below them whilst two dogs play behind them. The cottages at 4-12 Chesterton Road are clearly visible slightly upstream of the location of Jesus Green Lock – which was not to be built until 1838. Old St Giles’s Church sits before the dons (new St Giles was completed in 1875). The rest of Cambridge is arrayed before the viewer, St John’s New Court – newly built (1831) and gleaming white – to the right, King’s chapel behind it against the glorious sky. Many buildings are identifiable, all the way to the spire of St Andrew’s Chesterton on the far left, and the viewer is encouraged to trace the course of the River Cam to orient himself. Also recorded are the Mediaeval buildings of Cambridge swept away by the Victorians and the Twentieth Century, the most obvious being those demolished by Maufe for his Chapel and North Courts for St John’s. Petty Cury – demolished by the Council in the 1960s – and replaced with the unlovely Lion Yard shopping centre was, at the time of Storer’s drawing, the centre of Cambridge’s worst slums.
This large and impressive watercolour is presented in a hand-finished gilt frame.
Henry Sargent Storer was a British artist and engraver of topographical subjects who exhibited drawings at the Royal Academy between 1814 and 1836. His father James Sargant Storer was likewise an artist and engraver of topographical subjects; from 1814 they worked together until Henry died – predeceasing his father – in 1837. James was heartbroken and wrote to a friend “I have not attended to my profession since that time; my graver has lost its point; never to be renewed.” He was buried at St James’s Chapel in Pentonville, now Joseph Grimaldi Park (named after the clown, Grimaldi who was buried there in 1837 and whose railed grave remains to this day). James Storer was buried next to him on his death in 1853.
The Storers had a particular interest in views of Cambridge, James having been born there. Their c1820 Delineations of Trinity College and 1835 Cantabrigia Illustrata possibly being their best-known publications. They began a comprehensive survey of Cambridge in 1827, moving to the town for the period of production of the work. Although an old label attached to this work states that it was published as a print in 1834 we have thus far been unable to identify a copy of the print in any collection. The date, however seems about right as St John’s New Court by Hutchinson was completed in 1831; yet Jesus Green lock is not included – this being illustrated as under construction in the panorama published in the Cambridge Portfolio of 1838.
We are grateful to Mike Petty for his assistance in the cataloguing of this work.