Members of Parliament

I walked northbound over Westminster Bridge earlier today and thought how impressive Charles Barry's Houses of Parliament are. The bridge itself is beautiful too. It's important that we Londoners stop, look, and take stock, alongside the hoards of tourists, as we rush around this incredible city.

I looked down to the pavement and noticed that the bridge's trefoil casting was itself casting rather an unfortunate shape in sunlight. Juvenile I know, but I had to document this...

Canaletto's painting of the scene came to my mind. What a pity the Thames is so quiet compared to his beautiful, vibrant depiction in 1746 - see thumbnail.

I also thought of Turner's amazing water colours that he made during the fire that destroyed the previous Palace of Westminster in 1834 (see Canaletto pic). He got word of the fire and immediately hired a boat from near his digs (close to me in the East End), and rowed as fast as he could to witness it first hand. Like a live TV reporter arriving on the scene, he sat in the boat and painted furiously documenting the rapid spread of the flames over pages and pages of paper. He painted so fast that as he lay the water colours on top of each other they were still wet, so on the back of one page there's a contact print of the previous image. If you 'phone in advance, you can view these pages of paper at Tate Britain's print room, and actually handle them!


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