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Long View of London from Bankside 1647


This etching by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) shows a view from the south bank of the Thames, where much London action takes place in The Best of Men and The Licence of War. It was a district long known for its entertainments, among them playhouses, bear baiting, and brothels; one nickname for prostitutes was 'Bankside geese'.  Hollar left his native Prague in then Bohemia at the age of twenty. In 1636 he came to the attention of the renowned art collector, the Earl of Arundel, who was making an official visit to the continent. Hollar subsequently became a part of Arundel’s household, settling in England early in 1637 and remained there during the beginning of the Civil War. He left London for Antwerp in 1642, where he continued to work on a variety of projects. In 1652 he returned to live in England and was in London during the Great Fire of 1666. He remains most famous for his scenes of the city before and after this event. One of the most skilled etchers of his or any other time, he was almost blind in one eye. Upon his death in London, he had produced some 2700 separate etchings.


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