Monday, December 5, 2011

Imagining St Paul's -- the Hollar Drawings

We can imagine how St Paul's Cathedral looked because of the extensive set of engravings of the building made by the Dutch engraver Wenceslas Hollar in the 1650s for William Dugdale in theand printed in Dugdale's History of St. Paul's Cathedral (1658) just in time for the Great Fire to sweep it away.

We can get even closer to the original building because Hollar made pen-and-ink drawings in preparation for his engravings, a couple of which survive.

This drawing by Hollar shows the east end of the building, together with the south transept and the tower. It came to light only in the summer of 2009 when it was sold at auction to an unknown buyer.

If anyone knows how to locate the person making this purchase, please let me know.

Even more significant for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, however, is this pen-and-ink drawing made by Hollar in preparation for the engraving at the top of this post, showing the north side of the Choir, the north transept, and the north side of the nave.

This drawing is in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

It shows, of course, precisely the side of the cathedral where Paul's Cross was located. It does not appear in this drawing because it had been torn down in the mid-1630's as part of Inigo Jones' remodeling of the building. 

This image is as close to the visual appearance of Donne's St Paul's as we are likely to get.

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