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Museum of London acquires beautiful panorama of lost Houses of Parliament

11 July 2018

The Museum of London has acquired an epic 20 feet wide panorama of London, painted around 1815 by the French artist Pierre Prévost (1764-1823). It is a remarkable preparatory watercolour for a lost, full-scale 30m diameter panorama which was exhibited in Paris in 1817.

The panorama was acquired at auction at Sotheby’s for £200,000. There is only one other work by this artist of a similar size and quality still in existence, a view of Constantinople, which is in the Louvre.

Painted as the Napoleonic Wars drew to a close, the panorama is an immersive 360° view of London as the Duke of Wellington would have known it. Looking from the tower of St Margaret’s, the church situated within the shadow of Westminster Abbey, we are presented with a sweeping view over a sunlit city. Dominating the foreground is the Abbey and the old Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), which burnt down in 1834, and includes the medieval House of Lords chamber, target of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Prévost made panoramas of many European cities, but this particular example is thought to have been created at the height of his career. His first panorama of London, now lost, was made when he visited the city during the Peace of Amiens in 1802. He is thought to have returned to London in 1815, shortly after the Battle of Waterloo, to create this remarkable image of London.

This panorama has been acquired with the help of Art Fund, the Aldama Foundation and a group of individual donors, with additional support from Michael Spencer, the Leche Trust and other donors who wish to remain anonymous.

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said:
“We are thrilled to acquire such an evocative piece of London’s history. Not only does it highlight London as an important centre of international artistic exchange, it also reveals a fascinating moment in time. Our art collection is wide-ranging, but we have nothing quite like this. It’s an exciting time for us to be acquiring new objects for the London Collection as we plan the New Museum in West Smithfield. We are hugely grateful to the Art Fund and others for supporting us in this unique acquisition.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund said:
“The acquisition at auction of Pierre Prévost’s precious panorama of a long-lost London is a great coup for the Museum of London. We were very pleased to make a major grant towards this, helped along on this occasion by the enthusiasm of a group of our closest supporters.”

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Notes for editors

For more press information please contact Katie Balcombe, PR Manager at the Museum of London on 020 7814 5511/ 07967 313 176 or [email protected]

About The Museum of London
The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and is FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added.

About the Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 139,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 320 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by The Hepworth Wakefield in 2017) and a range of digital platforms.

Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at